Property Law

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Limitations on a Property Owner’s Rights

The rights to possess, use, exclude, and transfer property sometimes conflict with other people’s rights or the public interest. Therefore, these rights aren’t absolute. Property law attempts to reconcile [more…]

Remedies for Violations of Property Rights

A property right means nothing if you can’t enforce it. If you have the right to exclude others from your land but have no power to actually do so, you’re practically no better off than if you had no such [more…]

What Is a Title?

Legal title to real property means ownership of the property. You may think of title as a legal document representing ownership, like title to a car. But title to real property isn’t represented by a document [more…]

How Legal Title Is Acquired

An owner of legal title generally acquires her title from someone who previously owned the title, although it is possible to acquire title without getting it from a previous owner. [more…]

How Government Acquires Private Land for Public Use

The government often acquires legal title from individuals. Of course, a private individual may give or sell title to the government, just as she may give or sell title to third parties. But the government [more…]

Transfer Title during Life or by Will

A title owner can voluntarily transfer her title to someone else during her lifetime. Such a transfer may be called an inter vivos transfer, meaning a transfer during life. [more…]

The Property Rights of Airspace

In property law, owning land includes owning the earth under the surface and air above the surface. While ownership under the surface theoretically extends to the center of the earth, ownership of the [more…]

Property Distribution by Intestate Succession

If a legal title owner dies without a valid will, or if her will doesn’t dispose of some property that she owned, state law directs who gets the property. Someone who dies without a will is said to die [more…]

Acquire Title by Adverse Possession

In property law, adverse possession is the one way a person can acquire a new title to real property without acquiring the title from someone else. Adverse possession gives a person title to land that [more…]

Property Ownership: Present and Future Estates

Two or more people may share ownership of the same property at the same time. Two or more people also may own the same property at different times, with one person owning the right to possess for a time [more…]

Property Law: Undivided Concurrent Ownership

In property law, two or more people can share ownership of an estate. When they do, each of them has the right to use and enjoy the whole property that they co-own. Three forms of concurrent ownership [more…]

Nuisance Law: Enjoying Property without Unreasonable Interference

A nuisance (sometimes called a private nuisance to distinguish it from a public nuisance, which is a completely different subject) is an interference with the right to use and enjoy real property. Physical [more…]

Nuisance Law: Substantially Harming the Landowner

In property law, a nuisance is an unreasonable interference with a person’s use and enjoyment of her property. Even if an activity is unreasonable, it must cause substantial harm in order to be a nuisance [more…]

Property Law: Altering How Surface Water Drains

In property law, one way that a landowner may interfere with another’s use of her land is by altering how surface water, such as rain or snow melt, drains. A landowner may build a building, pave her land [more…]

Water Rights Regulations

Inherent to property rights is the right of an owner to use her land to capture water to use. If a lake or stream is on her property, she can draw water out of it. She also can drill into the earth and [more…]

Water Rights: Drawing Water from Underground

An owner has property rights to capture water on her land for use. Most underground water forms reservoirs in permeable sand, rock, and such. These underground reservoirs are called [more…]

The Rule of Capture: Extracting Oil and Gas from Underground

A landowner has property rights to the oil and gas under her land. Like percolating underground water, oil and gas move around in permeable layers of the earth. If one landowner drills a well on her land [more…]

Oil and Gas Rights: Modifying the Rule of Capture

A landowner has property rights to the oil and gas under her land. The traditional rule of capture is that others may lawfully take that oil and gas if they drill a well on their own land and the well [more…]

Property Rights: Avoid Landslides and Subsidence

One landowner’s use of her property may involve excavating and altering the earth on the surface or underground. A landowner may want to level her sloped property to make it more useable for certain purposes [more…]

Property Rights: What Constitutes a Trespass

A landowner has the general property right to exclude others from her land. Some say the right to exclude others is what makes something private property. An invasion of the right to exclude is called [more…]

Property Rights: Remedying Trespasses

A landowner has the general property right to exclude others from her land. An invasion of the right to exclude is called a trespass. A landowner or other possessor of the land is entitled to recover actual [more…]

What Is Needed to Make a Deed Effective

Delivering a deed means taking some action intended to make the deed effective presently. What that action is doesn’t really matter, but one obvious action is for the grantor to hand the deed to the grantee [more…]

When A Deed Is Delivered by Escrow

A grantor may effectively deliver a deed in the future by an escrow. An escrow is a deed (or other thing) given to a third party, called an escrow agent [more…]

When a Deed is Delivered by Escrow at Death

Through a death escrow, the grantor may give a deed to an escrow agent to deliver to the grantee on the condition that the grantor dies. A death escrow is effective as long as two things are true: [more…]

The Various Covenants of a Deed

Grantors typically make broad promises about the quality of title — warranties — and then customize those promises by making exceptions for title defects that they anticipate or already know about. All [more…]


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