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Property law is the area of
law Law is a set of rules that are created and are enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate. It has been vari ...
that governs the various forms of ownership in
real property In English common law, real property, real estate, immovable property or, solely in the US and Canada, realty, is land which is the property of some person and all structures (also called improvements or fixtures) integrated with or affi ...
(land) and
personal property property is property that is movable. In common law systems, personal property may also be called chattels or personalty. In civil law systems, personal property is often called movable property or movables—any property that can be moved fr ...
. Property refers to legally protected claims to resources, such as land and personal property, including
intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. There are many types of intellectual property, and some countries recognize more than others. The best-known types are patents, cop ...
. Property can be exchanged through
contract law A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties that creates, defines, and governs mutual rights and obligations between them. A contract typically involves the transfer of goods, services, money, or a promise to tr ...
, and if property is violated, one could sue under
tort law A tort is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. Tort law can be contrasted with criminal law, which deals with criminal wrongs that are punishable ...
to protect it. The concept, idea or
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. So ...
of
property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to consume, alter, share, ...
underlies all property law. In some
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin 'law' + 'declaration') is the legal term for the legal authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels. Jur ...
s, historically all property was owned by the
monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. for life or until abdication, and therefore the head of state of a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the highest authority and power i ...
and it devolved through
feudal land tenure Under the English feudal system several different forms of land tenure existed, each effectively a contract with differing rights and duties attached thereto. Such tenures could be either free-hold, signifying that they were hereditable or perpe ...
or other
feudal Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, cultural and political customs that flourished in medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structur ...
systems of loyalty and
fealty An oath of fealty, from the Latin ''fidelitas'' ( faithfulness), is a pledge of allegiance of one person to another. Definition In medieval Europe, the swearing of fealty took the form of an oath made by a vassal, or subordinate, to his lord. "F ...
.


History

Though the Napoleonic code was among the first
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, executive, and judiciary. Government i ...
acts of modern times to introduce the notion of absolute ownership into
statute A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, state, or country by way of consent. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. Statutes are rules made by l ...
, protection of personal property rights was present in
medieval In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire ...
Islamic law Sharia (; ar, شريعة, sharīʿa ) is a body of religious law that forms a part of the Islamic tradition. It is derived from the religious precepts of Islam and is based on the sacred scriptures of Islam, particularly the Quran and the ...
and
jurisprudence Jurisprudence, or legal theory, is the theoretical study of the propriety of law. Scholars of jurisprudence seek to explain the nature of law in its most general form and they also seek to achieve a deeper understanding of legal reasoning a ...
, and in more feudalist forms in the
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omnipresen ...
courts of medieval and early modern England.


Theory

The word ''property'', in everyday usage, refers to an object (or objects) owned by a person—a car, a book, or a cellphone—and the relationship the person has to it. In law, the concept acquires a more nuanced rendering. Factors to consider include the nature of the object, the relationship between the person and the object, the relationship between a number of people in relation to the object, and how the object is regarded within the prevailing political system. Most broadly and concisely, property in the legal sense refers to the rights of people in or over certain objects or things. Non-legally recognized or documented property rights are known as informal property rights. These informal property rights are non-codified or documented, but recognized among local residents to varying degrees.


Justifications and drawbacks of property rights

In capitalist societies with market economies, much of property is owned privately by persons or associations and not the government. Five general justifications have been given on private property rights: # Private property is an efficient way to manage resources in a decentralized basis, allowing expertise and specialization to develop with regard to the property. # Private property is a powerful incentive for owners to put it to productive use, because they stand to gain in the investment. # Private property allows exchanges and modifications. # Private property is an important source of individual autonomy, giving individuals independence and identity distinct from others. # Private property, being dispersed, allows individuals to exercise freedom, against others or against the government. Arguments in favor of limiting private property rights have also been raised: # Private property can be used in a way that is harmful to others, such as a factory owner causing loud noises in nearby neighborhoods. In economics, this is known as a
negative externality In economics, an externality or external cost is an indirect cost or benefit to an uninvolved third party that arises as an effect of another party's (or parties') activity. Externalities can be considered as unpriced goods involved in either co ...
. Nuisance laws and government regulations (such as
zoning Zoning is a method of urban planning in which a municipality or other tier of government divides land into areas called zones, each of which has a set of regulations for new development that differs from other zones. Zones may be defined for a si ...
) have been used to limit an owners' right to use the property in certain ways. # Property can lead to
monopolies A monopoly (from Greek el, μόνος, mónos, single, alone, label=none and el, πωλεῖν, pōleîn, to sell, label=none), as described by Irving Fisher, is a market with the "absence of competition", creating a situation where a speci ...
, giving the owner the power to unfairly extract advantages from others. Because of this, there are laws on
competition Competition is a rivalry where two or more parties strive for a common goal which cannot be shared: where one's gain is the other's loss (an example of which is a zero-sum game). Competition can arise between entities such as organisms, indivi ...
and antitrust. # Property can lead to the commodification of certain domains which people would prefer not to be commodified, such as social relations. There is debate in certain countries, for example, on whether organ sales or sex services should be legal. # Private property gives individuals power, which can exacerbate over time and lead to too much inequality within a society. The propensity for inequality is justification of
wealth redistribution Redistribution of income and wealth is the transfer of income and wealth (including physical property) from some individuals to others through a social mechanism such as taxation, welfare, public services, land reform, monetary policies, confis ...
.


Natural rights and property

In his '' Second Treatise on Government'', English philosopher
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "father of liberalism ...
asserted the right of an individual to own one part of the world, when, according to the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of texts of ...
, God gave the world to all humanity in common. He claimed that although persons belong to God, they own the fruits of their labor. When a person works, that labor enters into the object. Thus, the object becomes the property of that person. However, Locke conditioned property on the Lockean proviso, that is, "there is enough, and as good, left in common for others". U.S. Supreme Court Justice James Wilson undertook a survey of the philosophical grounds of American property law in 1790 and 1791. He proceeds from two premises: “Every crime includes an injury: every injury includes a violation of a right.” (Lectures III, ii.) The government's role in protecting property depends upon an idea of right. Wilson believes that "man has a
natural right Some philosophers distinguish two types of rights, natural rights and legal rights. * Natural rights are those that are not dependent on the laws or customs of any particular culture or government, and so are ''universal'', '' fundamental'' an ...
to his property, to his character, to liberty, and to safety.” He also indicates that “the primary and principal object in the institution of government... was... to acquire a new security for the possession or the recovery of those rights”. Wilson states that: “Property is the right or lawful power, which a person has to a thing.” He then divides the right into three degrees: possession, the lowest; possession and use; and, possession, use, and disposition – the highest. Further, he states: “Useful and skillful industry is the soul of an active life. But industry should have her just reward. That reward is property, for of useful and active industry, property is the natural result.” From this simple reasoning he is able to present the conclusion that exclusive, as opposed to communal property, is to be preferred. Wilson does, however, give a survey of communal property arrangements in history, not only in colonial
Virginia Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the United States, between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are ...
but also ancient Sparta.


Property rights

There are two main views on the right to property, the traditional view and the bundle of rights view. The traditionalists believe that there is a core, inherent meaning in the concept of property, while the bundle of rights view states that the property owner only has bundle of permissible uses over the property. The two views exist on a spectrum and the difference may be a matter of focus and emphasis.
William Blackstone Sir William Blackstone (10 July 1723 – 14 February 1780) was an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century. He is most noted for writing the ''Commentaries on the Laws of England''. Born into a middle-class family in ...
, in his ''
Commentaries on the Laws of England The ''Commentaries on the Laws of England'' are an influential 18th-century treatise on the common law of England by Sir William Blackstone, originally published by the Clarendon Press at Oxford, 1765–1770. The work is divided into four volume ...
,'' wrote that the essential core of property is the right to exclude. That is, the owner of property must be able to exclude others from the thing in question, even though the right to exclude is subject to limitations. By implication, the owner can use the thing, unless another restriction, such as zoning law, prevents it. Other traditionalists argue that three main rights define property: the right to exclusion, use and transfer. An alternative view of property, favored by legal realists, is that property simply denotes a bundle of rights defined by law and social policy. Which rights are included in the bundle known as property rights, and which bundles are preferred to which others, is simply a matter of policy. Therefore, a government can prevent the building of a factory on a piece of land, through zoning law or criminal law, without damaging the concept of property. The "bundle of rights" view was prominent in academia in the 20th century and remains influential today in American law.


Priority

Different parties may claim a competing interest in the same property by mistake or by
fraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain, or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compens ...
, with the claims being inconsistent of each other. For example, the party creating or transferring an interest may have a valid title, but may intentionally or negligently create several interests wholly or partially inconsistent with each other. A court resolves the dispute by adjudicating the priorities of the interests.


Property rights and rights to people

Property rights are rights over things enforceable against all other persons. By contrast,
contract A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties that creates, defines, and governs mutual rights and obligations between them. A contract typically involves the transfer of goods, services, money, or a promise to tr ...
ual rights are rights enforceable against particular persons. Property rights may, however, arise from a contract; the two systems of rights overlap. In relation to the sale of land, for example, two sets of legal relationships exist alongside one another: the contractual right to sue for damages, and the property right exercisable over the land. More minor property rights may be created by contract, as in the case of easements, covenants, and equitable servitudes. A separate distinction is evident where the rights granted are insufficiently substantial to confer on the nonowner a definable interest or right in the thing. The clearest example of these rights is the
license A license (or licence) is an official permission or permit to do, use, or own something (as well as the document of that permission or permit). A license is granted by a party (licensor) to another party (licensee) as an element of an agreeme ...
. In general, even if licenses are created by a binding contract, they do not give rise to property interests.


Property rights and personal rights

Property rights are also distinguished from personal rights. Practically all contemporary societies acknowledge this basic ontological and ethical distinction. In the past, groups lacking
political power In social science and politics, power is the social production of an effect that determines the capacities, actions, beliefs, or conduct of actors. Power does not exclusively refer to the threat or use of force (coercion) by one actor agains ...
have often been disqualified from the benefits of property. In an extreme form, this has meant that people have become "objects" of property—legally "things" or chattels (see
slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave—someone forbidden to quit one's service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as property. Slavery typically involves slaves being made to perf ...
.) More commonly, marginalized groups have been denied legal rights to own property. These include
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is the age of the Israelites""The ...
in
England England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separated from continental Europe by ...
and married women in Western societies until the late 19th century. The dividing line between personal rights and property rights is not always easy to draw. For instance, is one's
reputation The reputation of a social entity (a person, a social group, an organization, or a place) is an opinion about that entity typically as a result of social evaluation on a set of criteria, such as behavior or performance. Reputation is a ubiquitous ...
property that can be commercially exploited by affording property rights to it? The question of the proprietary character of personal rights is particularly relevant in the case of rights over human tissue, organs and other body parts. The rights of women to control their own body have been in some times and some places subordinated to other people's control over their
fetus A fetus or foetus (; plural fetuses, feti, foetuses, or foeti) is the unborn offspring that develops from an animal embryo. Following embryonic development the fetal stage of development takes place. In human prenatal development, fetal develo ...
. For example, government intervention that controls the conditions of birthing by prohibiting or requiring caesarian sections. Whether and how a woman becomes pregnant or carries a pregnancy to term is also subject to laws mandating or forbidding abortion, or restricting access to birth control. A woman's right to control her body during pregnancy or possible pregnancy – what work she does, what food or substances she ingests, other activities she engages in – have also frequently been subject to restrictions by many other parties; in response, a number of countries have passed laws banning pregnancy discrimination.
English English usually refers to: * English language * English people English may also refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * ''English'', an adjective for something of, from, or related to England ** English national i ...
judges have recently made the point that such women lack the right to exclusive control over their own bodies, formerly considered a fundamental
common-law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omniprese ...
right. In the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major unincorporated territorie ...
, a " quasi-property" interest has been explicitly declared in the dead body. Also in the United States, it has been recognised that people have an alienable proprietary " right of publicity" over their "persona". The patent/patenting of biotechnological processes and products based on
human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedalism and exceptional cognitive skills due to a large and complex brain. This has enabled the development of advanced tools, culture ...
genetic material Nucleic acids are biopolymers, macromolecules, essential to all known forms of life. They are composed of nucleotides, which are the monomers made of three components: a 5-carbon sugar, a phosphate group and a nitrogenous base. The two main cl ...
may be characterised as creating property in human life. A particularly difficult question is whether people have rights to
intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. There are many types of intellectual property, and some countries recognize more than others. The best-known types are patents, cop ...
developed by others from their body parts. In the pioneering case on this issue, the
Supreme Court of California The Supreme Court of California is the highest and final court of appeals in the courts of the U.S. state of California. It is headquartered in San Francisco at the Earl Warren Building, but it regularly holds sessions in Los Angeles and Sacr ...
held in '' Moore v. Regents of the University of California'' (1990) that individuals do not have such a property right.


Classification

Property law is characterised by a great deal of historical continuity and technical
terminology Terminology is a group of specialized words and respective meanings in a particular field, and also the study of such terms and their use; the latter meaning is also known as terminology science. A ''term'' is a word, compound word, or multi-wor ...
. The basic distinction in common law systems is between real property (land) and personal property (chattels). Before the mid-19th century, the principles governing the transfer of real property and personal property on an
intestacy Intestacy is the condition of the estate of a person who dies without having in force a valid will or other binding declaration. Alternatively this may also apply where a will or declaration has been made, but only applies to part of the estat ...
were quite different. Though this dichotomy does not have the same significance anymore, the distinction is still fundamental because of the essential differences between the two categories. An obvious example is the fact that land is immovable, and thus the rules that govern its use must differ. A further reason for the distinction is that legislation is often drafted employing the traditional terminology. The division of land and chattels has been criticised as being not satisfactory as a basis for categorising the principles of property law since it concentrates attention not on the proprietary interests themselves but on the objects of those interests. Moreover, in the case of fixtures, chattels which are affixed to or placed on land may become part of the land. Real property is generally sub-classified into: # corporeal hereditaments – tangible real property (land) # incorporeal hereditaments – intangible real property such as an easement of way Although a
tenancy A leasehold estate is an ownership of a temporary right to hold land or property in which a lessee or a tenant holds rights of real property by some form of title from a lessor or landlord. Although a tenant does hold rights to real property, a ...
involves rights to real property, a
leasehold estate A leasehold estate is an ownership of a temporary right to hold land or property in which a lessee or a tenant holds rights of real property by some form of title from a lessor or landlord. Although a tenant does hold rights to real property, a l ...
is typically considered personal property, being derived from
contract law A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties that creates, defines, and governs mutual rights and obligations between them. A contract typically involves the transfer of goods, services, money, or a promise to tr ...
. In the civil law system, the distinction is between movable and immovable property, with movable property roughly corresponding to personal property, while immovable property corresponding to
real estate Real estate is property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this (also) an item of real property, (more general ...
or real property, and the associated rights, and obligations thereon.


Possession

The concept of possession developed from a legal system whose principal concern was to avoid civil disorder. The general principle is that a person in possession of land or goods, even as a wrongdoer, is entitled to take action against anyone interfering with the possession unless the person interfering is able to demonstrate a superior right to do so. In England, the
Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 was an Act of Parliament to amend the law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland concerning conversion and other torts affecting goods. Under the act, detinue was abolished. See also *Trespass in E ...
has significantly amended the law relating to wrongful interference with goods and abolished some longstanding remedies and doctrines.


Transfer of property

The term "transfer of property" generally means an act by which a living person, company, or state conveys property, in present or in future, to one or more other living persons, to himself and one or more other living persons, to the state, or to a private company. The transfer of property can be consensual or non-consensual. To transfer property is to perform such an act.


Consensual transfers

The most common method of acquiring an interest in property is as the result of a consensual transaction with the previous owner, for example, a sale, a
gift A gift or a present is an item given to someone without the expectation of payment or anything in return. An item is not a gift if that item is already owned by the one to whom it is given. Although gift-giving might involve an expectation ...
, or through inheritance. In law, an inheritor is a person who is entitled to receive a share of the heritor's (the person who died) property, subject to the rules of inheritance in the
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin 'law' + 'declaration') is the legal term for the legal authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels. Jur ...
of which the heritor was a citizen or where the heritor died or owned property at the time of death. Dispositions by
will Will may refer to: Common meanings * Will and testament, instructions for the disposition of one's property after death * Will (philosophy), or willpower * Will (sociology) * Will, volition (psychology) * Will, a modal verb - see Shall and will ...
may also be regarded as consensual transactions, since the effect of a will is to provide for the distribution of the deceased person's property to nominated beneficiaries. A person may also obtain an interest in property under a trust established for his or her benefit by the owner of the property.


Non-consensual transfers

It is also possible for property to pass from one person to another independently of the consent of the property owner. For example, this occurs when a person dies intestate, goes
bankrupt Bankruptcy is a legal process through which people or other entities who cannot repay debts to creditors may seek relief from some or all of their debts. In most jurisdictions, bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor ...
, or has the property taken in execution of a court judgment. There are cases when a person is legally capable of owning property, but is not capable of maintaining and dealing with it (such as paying property taxes). This is the case for young children and mentally handicapped individuals. The state deems them incompetent in their capacity to deal with property. Thus, they must be appointed a legal guardian to deal with the property on the incompetent individual's behalf. In cases where the individual cannot find a legal guardian to deal with the property, the property is put up for sale and the incompetent individual is involuntarily deprived of such property. Tax sales are another process by which individuals can be forcibly deprived of their private property. A tax sale is the forced sale of property by the state due to unpaid taxes on that property. The property is typically auctioned off as a tax sale by the local government to payoff the delinquent taxes on that property. One could make the argument that, given the presence of property taxes, an individual never truly owns a piece of property; they rent it from the government. Property can also pass from one person to the state independently of the consent of the property owner through the state's power of
eminent domain Eminent domain (United States, Philippines), land acquisition (India, Malaysia, Singapore), compulsory purchase/acquisition (Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, United Kingdom), resumption (Hong Kong, Uganda), resumption/compulsory acquisition (Austr ...
. Eminent domain refers to the ability of the state to buyout private property from individuals at their will in order to use the property for public use. Eminent domain requires the state to "justly compensate" the property owner for the acquisition of their land. The practice dates back to at least the 17th century. Common examples include buying land from individuals in order for the state to build public roads, transportation systems, governmental buildings, and to construct certain public goods. The state also uses its eminent domain power for large urban renewal projects by which it will buy out large portions of typically poor housing areas in order to rebuild it. Eminent domain also consists of enabling the state to condemn certain real estate construction and development rights for various reasons. One must meet location specific regulatory standards and building codes in order to construct on property. The general rule for stairs (in the US) is 7-11 (a 7-inch rise and 11 inch run). More exactly, no more than 7 3/4 inches for the riser (vertical) and a minimum of 10 inches for the tread (horizontal or step). Failure to meet these regulatory standards can result in an inability to receive state building permits, state destruction of property, legal fines, and increased liability. KELO V. NEW LONDON (04-108) 545 U.S. 469 (2005) was a pivotal case that increased the scope of the eminent domain power of the state. The U.S. supreme court ruled that private property could be condemned by the state ''and'' transferred to a private company.


Legal successor

In property law, economics and finance, the term "legal successor" may refer to a legally established successor of property rights ( inheritance,
interest In finance and economics, interest is payment from a borrower or deposit-taking financial institution to a lender or depositor of an amount above repayment of the principal sum (that is, the amount borrowed), at a particular rate. It is disti ...
) or in terms of liabilities (
debt Debt is an obligation that requires one party, the debtor, to pay money or other agreed-upon value to another party, the creditor. Debt is a deferred payment, or series of payments, which differentiates it from an immediate purchase. The de ...
). In the case of
bankruptcy Bankruptcy is a legal process through which people or other entities who cannot repay debts to creditors may seek relief from some or all of their debts. In most jurisdictions, bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor ...
of a lender, the legal successor in interest has the right to collect the debt.


Lease

Historically,
lease A lease is a contractual arrangement calling for the user (referred to as the ''lessee'') to pay the owner (referred to as the ''lessor'') for the use of an asset. Property, buildings and vehicles are common assets that are leased. Industri ...
s served many purposes, and the regulation varied according to intended purposes and the economic conditions of the time. Leaseholds, for example, were mainly granted for
agriculture Agriculture or farming is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that enabled people ...
until the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, when the growth of cities made the leasehold an important form of landholding in
urban area An urban area, built-up area or urban agglomeration is a human settlement with a high population density and infrastructure of built environment. Urban areas are created through urbanization and are categorized by urban morphology as cities ...
s. The modern law of landlord and tenant in common law jurisdictions retains the influence of the common law and, particularly, the ''
laissez-faire ''Laissez-faire'' ( ; from french: laissez faire , ) is an economic system in which transactions between private groups of people are free from any form of economic interventionism (such as subsidies) deriving from special interest groups. ...
'' philosophy that dominated the law of
contract A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties that creates, defines, and governs mutual rights and obligations between them. A contract typically involves the transfer of goods, services, money, or a promise to tr ...
and the law of property in the 19th century. With the growth of
consumerism Consumerism is a social and economic order that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts. With the Industrial Revolution, but particularly in the 20th century, mass production led to overproduction—the sup ...
, the law of consumer protection recognised that common law principles assuming equal bargaining power between parties may cause unfairness. Consequently, reformers have emphasised the need to assess residential tenancy laws in terms of protection they provide to tenants. Legislation to protect tenants is now common.


Ownership


Single individuals

Property can mostly be owned by any single human. However, many jurisdictions have some stipulations that limit property-owning capacity. The two main limiting factors include citizenship and competency of maintaining property. In many countries, non-citizens cannot own property or are limited greatly in their capacity to own property. The United States allows foreign entities to buy and own property. But the United States does have stipulations surrounding tribal land owned by the indigenous Native Americans. Incompetent individuals also cannot own property, at least without a legal guardian. Incompetent individuals consist largely of children and the cognitively impaired. They are legally recognized and allowed to own property, but they cannot deal with it without the consent of their legal guardians. Children do not have the capacity to pay property taxes.


Groups

All western legal systems allow for a number of different forms of group ownership of property. Group ownership in property law is referred to as co-tenancy, or concurrent ownership. Two or more owners of a property are referred to as co-owners.


Concurrent owners

In U.S. common law, property can be owned by many different people and parties. Property can be shared by an infinitely divisible number of people. There are three types of
concurrent estate In property law, a concurrent estate or co-tenancy is any of various ways in which property is owned by more than one person at a time. If more than one person owns the same property, they are commonly referred to as co-owners. Legal terminolo ...
s, or ways people can jointly own property: joint tenancy, tenancy in common, or tenancy by entirety.


= Joint Tenancy

= In joint tenancy, each owner of the property has an undivided interest in it along with full and complete ownership. Each owner in joint tenancy has the full right to occupy and use all of it. If one owner dies in joint tenancy, then the other owner takes control of the deceased owner's interest.


= Tenancy in Common

= In tenancy in common, the shares of ownership can be equal or unequal is size. One person may own a larger share of the property than another. Even if owners own an unequal amount of shares, all owners still have the right to use all of the property. If one owner dies, their share of the property is transferred to the designated individual in their will contract.


= Tenancy by the Entirety

= In tenancy by the entirety, each owner of the property has an undivided interest in it along with full and complete ownership. Each spouse has the full right to occupy and use all of the property. It is only available to married couples. A spouse cannot transfer their interest in the property without the consent of the other spouse. If the couple divorces and goes to court, a judge is granted wide discretion on how to divide the share interests of the property in common-law jurisdictions.


Corporate owners

Corporations are legal non-human entities that are entitled to property rights just as an individual human is. A corporation has legal power to use and possess property just as a fictitious legal human would. However, a corporation isn't a single human, it is the collective will of a group of people who provide a service or build a good. With many agent in play, there are many different and opposing interests in play with respect to ownership. The majority of property is now owned by corporations. They were created under general incorporation statutes that allow such fictitious legal persons to have property rights.


State owners

The community, or the state, can have many different roles concerning property: facilitator, protector, and owner. In capitalist market economies, the state largely serves as a mediator that facilitates and enforces private property laws. Communist ideals oppose private property laws.
Communism Communism (from Latin la, communis, lit=common, universal, label=none) is a far-left sociopolitical, philosophical, and economic ideology and current within the socialist movement whose goal is the establishment of a communist society, a ...
/ Marxism advocates for full state / public ownership of property. "Private property has made us so stupid and one-sided that an object is only ''ours'' when we have it – when it exists for us as capital, or when it is directly possessed, eaten, drunk, worn, inhabited, etc., – in short, when it is ''used'' by us" (Marx). However, it is important to note that many Marxist-Leninist societies such as China and the dissolved Soviet Union have forms of private property laws. In the United States, "the federal government owns roughly 640 million acres, about 28% of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States. Four major federal land management agencies administer 606.5 million acres of this land (as of September 30, 2018). They are the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and National Park Service (NPS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Forest Service (FS) in the Department of Agriculture. A fifth agency, the Department of Defense (excluding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), administers 8.8 million acres in the United States (as of September 30, 2017), consisting of military bases, training ranges, and more. Together, the five agencies manage about 615.3 million acres, or 27% of the U.S. land base. Many other agencies administer the remaining federal acreage."


See also

* Claim club *
Conversion (law) Conversion is an intentional tort consisting of "taking with the intent of exercising over the chattel an ownership inconsistent with the real owner's right of possession". In England & Wales, it is a tort of strict liability. Its equivalents in ...
*
Detinue In tort law, detinue () is an action to recover for the wrongful taking of personal property. It is initiated by an individual who claims to have a greater right to their immediate possession than the current possessor. For an action in detinue ...
* Escheat * Rei vindicatio *
Replevin Replevin () or claim and delivery (sometimes called revendication) is a legal remedy, which enables a person to recover personal property taken wrongfully or unlawfully, and to obtain compensation for resulting losses. Etymology The word "replevi ...
*
Torrens title Torrens title is a land registration and land transfer system, in which a state creates and maintains a register of land holdings, which serves as the conclusive evidence (termed " indefeasibility") of title of the person recorded on the regist ...
*
Trover Trover () is a form of lawsuit in common-law countries for recovery of damages for wrongful taking of personal property. Trover belongs to a series of remedies for such wrongful taking, its distinctive feature being recovery only for the valu ...
* Infectious invalidity


Property law in different jurisdictions

* Ghanaian property law * United States property law *
English property law English property law refers to the law of acquisition, sharing and protection of valuable assets in England and Wales. While part of the United Kingdom, many elements of Scots property law are different. In England, property law encompasses fou ...
* Scots property law * South African property law * Australian property law


Notes


References

* AA Berle, 'Property, Production and Revolution' (1965
65 Columbia Law Review 1
* AA Berle, 'Family Lawsuits Over Real Property' (2012
Los Angeles Article Review on Real Property 2
* {{Authority control Common law legal systems Common law