Reverter Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Reverter, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Reverter?

(n) Reverter is the event by which a property transferred to another person is returned back to the original owner on due fulfillment of the provisions contained in the original deed of transfer. For example when the loan secured on the property is closed the pledged property reverts to the owner.

History and Meaning of Reverter

Reverter is a legal term commonly used in property law inheritance. In the early days, a feoffment (a transfer of land) was effected by symbolic delivery of seisin (possession), accompanied by the feoffor's warranty that he was seized of the fee and that the feoffee would hold of him by certain services. When the feoffee ceased or failed to perform these services, the land, after some formal demand, reverted to the feoffor, and thus, the right of reverter became a property located in the feoffor as an essential element of his original ownership.

After the development of the common law, these rights continued to have relevance, even though the means of transferring land had evolved. Modernly, reverter was best known as the right retained by the grantor of a fee simple determinable, permitting the grantor (or his heirs) to regain title automatically should the deed's restrictions occur.

Examples of Reverter

  1. John conveyed his landed property to Jeremy in a deed with a Right of Reverter condition that, if the property ceased to be used as a park, the property would revert back to John.
  2. Carolyn conveyed a piece of land to her son Caleb and placed a right of reverter in the deed which states that if Caleb attempts to sell the property in the future, ownership would revert back to Carolyn.
  3. Property transferred for religious purposes may have a reverter clause that requires the property returned to the grantor in the event that it is ever used for secular reasons.

Legal Terms Similar to Reverter

  1. Right of Entry: It refers to a possibility in the grantor of re-acquiring the title if the grantee violates specific restrictions stated in the grant.
  2. Fee Simple Determinable: A fee simple determinable is an ownership interest that will end automatically if ownership conditions or usage restrictions are violated.
  3. Possibility of Reverter: A possibility of reverter is a legal right retained by the grantor of an estate (such as fee simple determinable) that allows the grantor (or heirs) to reclaim the property if specified conditions occur.