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Ownership in Severalty


Ownership of Severalty is one of four types of property ownership in the United States. It refers to real estate ownership in which a sole party, whether that is an individual or a corporation, owns property on their own.


Every piece of property has an owner, whether that owner is an individual person, an institution, a business or the government. The term tenancy refers to a way of owning or having the title to a piece of property. Vesting titles is legal proof of ownership; this is the term for how an owner comes into legal possession of a property.

Property can be held in a few different ways in America. A person or entity can own land or buildings on their own, as an individual, or they can own it with others. There can also be state ownership, which is when property is owned by any public organization or body. In this case, rights tend to apply to assets, industries or enterprises.

Ownership in severalty can sound confusing because the word several means more than one, but it’s recommended to think of the word ‘severed’, as in severed off from others, as a reminder of the correct meaning. Owning property individually is actually the simplest way to do so, and ownership in severalty can fall under private or public ownership. Private ownership implies that the owner is non-governmental. Property can be owned by a person or by a business entity. In some real estate transactions, a limited liability cooperation might be in legal possession of a property while an exchange takes place, like in a reverse exchange, for instance.

When a person or entity owns a property on their own, they are able to make important decisions about how the property is run, what it is used for, and they also have the ability to sell the property without the legal approval of anyone else.  A property owner who has an ownership in severalty can also bequeath the property to any one they choose. This is not the case in all types of ownership. In a tenancy in common, several property owners have to work out percentages of shares, and although each person can choose to whom they pass the property after their death, it leaves the other owners with the possibility of having to share interest in a property with someone they don’t know.

Because married couples often purchase property as a tenancy in entirety, it’s important to note the difference with tenancy in severalty. A tenancy in entirety means that the two married owners basically own the property as one entity, with equal shares and thus equal rights. One spouse may not make a decision about the property without the signature of the other, and if one of the spouses dies, the other is automatically entitled to the property even before the deceased spouse’s immediate family. A tenancy in entirety is a common choice, but not a required one. With a tenancy in severalty, it may be important to distinguish between a single person and an unmarried one. An unmarried person may at one point have been married, while a single person never has.

Facts About Property Ownership

Owning property means having complete, or exclusive rights over that property, whether it’s intellectual property like a song or a manuscript, an object like vase, or real estate, like a home, building, or land. This means that they also have rights to any financial profit the property is able to afford, like renting or leasing.

There are many ways to gain property ownership. It can be gifted, passed on by a deceased relative, awarded through a lawsuit as damages, maybe in the case of a divorce, earned, built, etc. It can also be acquired through homesteading, which is where the homeowner uses it naturally to farm. Ways to lose property include gifting it to someone else, having it taken away for legal reasons like seizure or foreclosure, both of which can happen as a result of tax debt or mortgage debt. Property can also be taken through eviction, which would only apply to property like an apartment or condo. There is legal protection for tenants in shared buildings, and landlords can’t evict easily or immediately. Property titles can be transferred as well through sale of the property, or exchanged for a new property, like in a reverse exchange. It’s also possible to misplace property though forgetting the location or losing ownership documents.

Land Ownership

In Latin, the word realis means ‘thing’ or ‘matter’ and is the root of the word ‘real’, which in law, relates to a thing, rather than a person. This means that there is a large difference, by law, between real property and personal property.

Immovable property, or real estate, includes anything that’s permanently fixed to the ground, such as houses or other buildings. Another term for real estate is real property, which is different than personal property. Personal property includes items like clothes, furniture, etc. Real property refers to immovable property which is defined as real estate. Real estate and real property are different in small but key ways. Real estate technically refers to fixtures like buildings, and the land on which they stand, while real property refers to the actual ownership rights of land and property.