This section is from the book "Real Property, An Introductory Explanation Of The Law Relating To Land", by Alfred F Topham. Also available from Amazon: The New Law Of Property.
When a tenant in fee simple grants a particular estate to another, and retains the rest of the fee simple himself, the person who holds the particular estate holds it as tenant of the grantor. Hence it is said that "There is tenure between a tenant -of a particular estate and the reversioner."
But there is no tenure between the tenant of a particular estate and a remainderman.
Thus A, a tenant in fee simple, grants land to B for life, remainder to C for life. B holds the land from A and not from C.
A reversion is always vested and cannot be contingent.
For if a tenant in fee simple grants any number of particular estates, he or his heirs are always ready to receive the fee simple again if all the particular estates fail.
Therefore the rules governing a reversion are the same as those governing a vested remainder, except that there are certain rights connected with tenure which belong to a reversioner but not to a remainderman. They are as follows: -
1. Bent Service.
In early days a lord who granted a particular estate to another usually stipulated for certain services to be rendered to him.
At the present day a rent is usually reserved instead of services. This is in theory " rent in lieu of service," and is called a "rent service" whenever the rent is payable by the tenant of a particular estate to the owner of the reversion.
Thus if A, tenant in fee simple, grants a lease of his land to B for 21 years, A retains the reversion, and the rent paid by B to A is "rent service."
2. Distress. - A right to seize furniture and other chattels from off the land, if the rent is not paid.
This right belongs only to the person who has the reversion, except in so far as it is expressly given to other persons by agreement or by statute.
3. Attornment. - If the person entitled to a reversion (see p. 143) wished to transfer it to another person, he had to get the consent of the tenant of the particular estate. The new tenant was said to attorn tenant to the reversioner.
The necessity for attornment was abolished by an Act of Anne (a) but persons still sometimes attorn tenant to the owner of the fee, especially in mortgages (b).
(a) 4 & 5 Anne, c. 16.
(b) Note on second reading. - At one time this was thought to give the mortgagee a power to distrain for the interest, but it is now settled that such a power is void unless registered as a bill of sale, consequently the attornment is now of little use, except as facilitating the entry of the mortgagee. See Key and Elphinstone, Vol. II., pp. 51 and 52, 8th Edn.