@Francis Mendo - The interest expense goes to the mortgagor because in theory they are the one paying the mortgage. I assume they aren't married filing jointly... otherwise is does not matter.
@Francis Mendo - The mortgagee is the lender... I am sure they have involvement.
It is not about who actually makes the payment... but who the agreement is between.
Similar scenario... My wife had a car loan in her name when we were dating but I made the payment. If I did not pay the loan, then her credit would have taken a hit and the repossession process would have been between the bank and her. Again, the agreement was between the bank and her... not me.
If the land owner wants to receive the tax deduction, then they should refinance the outstanding balance and have the loan in their name.