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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, r ...
law is the area of
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
that governs the various forms of
ownership Ownership is the state or fact of exclusive right In Anglo-Saxon law Anglo-Saxon law (Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germ ...
in
real property In England, English common law, real property, real estate, realty, or immovable property is land which is the property of some person and all structures (also called Land improvement, improvements or Fixture (property law), fixtures) integr ...
(land) and
personal property Personal property is 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 ...
. 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 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 o ...
. Property can be exchanged through
contract law A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview ...

contract law
, and if property is violated, one could sue under
tort law A tort, in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or 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. ''Black's Law ...

tort law
to protect it. The concept, idea or
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such questio ...

philosophy
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, r ...
underlies all property law. In some
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be i ...
s, historically all property was owned by the
monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role tha ...

monarch
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 perpet ...
or other
feudal Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society ...
systems of
loyalty Loyalty, in general use, is a devotion Devotion or Devotions may refer to: In religion * Faith * Anglican devotions * Buddhist devotion * Catholic devotions * Bible study (Christian), called "devotion" by some Christian denominations * Marian ...

loyalty
and
fealty An oath Traditionally an oath (from Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (B ...
. Though the
Napoleonic code The Napoleonic Code (, lit. "Code Napoleon"), officially the Civil Code of the French (; simply referred to as ) is the French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), of ...
was among the first
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...

government
acts of
modern timesModern Times may refer to modern history. Modern Times may also refer to: Music * Modern Times (band), a band from Luxembourg * Modern Times (Al Stewart album), ''Modern Times'' (Al Stewart album), a 1975 album by Al Stewart * Modern Times (Bob Dy ...
to introduce the notion of absolute ownership into
statute A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...

statute
, protection of personal property rights was present in
medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...

medieval
Islamic law Sharia (; ar, شريعة, sharīʿa ) is a religious law Religious law includes ethical and moral codes taught by religious traditions. Different religious systems hold sacred law in a greater or lesser degree of importance to their beli ...
and
jurisprudence Jurisprudence, or legal theory, is the theoretical study of the propriety of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whol ...
, and in more feudalist forms in the
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
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 Private property is a legal designation for the ownership of property by non-governmental legal entities. Private property is distinguishable from public property Public property is property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract ...
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 Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods ...

negative externality
.
Nuisance Nuisance (from archaic ''nocence'', through Fr. ''noisance'', ''nuisance'', from Lat. ''nocere'', "to hurt") is a common law tort. It means that which causes offence, annoyance, trouble or injury. A nuisance can be either public (also "common") o ...
laws and government regulations (such as
zoning Zoning is a method of urban planning Urban planning, also known as regional planning, town planning, city planning, or rural planning, is a technical and political process that is focused on the development and design of land use and the bu ...
) have been used to limit an owners' right to use the property in certain ways. # Property can lead to
monopolies A monopoly (from Greek language, Greek el, μόνος, mónos, single, alone, label=none and el, πωλεῖν, pōleîn, to sell, label=none) is as described by Irving Fisher, a market with the "absence of competition", creating a situation whe ...

monopolies
, giving the owner the power to unfairly extract advantages from others. Because of this, there is often laws on
competition Competition is a rivalry A rivalry is the state of two people or groups engaging in a lasting competitive relationship. Rivalry is the "against each other" spirit between two competing sides. The relationship itself may also be called "a ri ...
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.


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 Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * ...

John Locke
asserted the right of an individual to own one part of the world, when, according to the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
, 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 The Lockean proviso is a feature of 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 ...
, that is, "there is enough, and as good, left in common for others".
U.S. Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a coun ...

U.S. Supreme Court
Justice
James WilsonJames Wilson may refer to: Politicians and government officials Canada *James Wilson (Upper Canada politician) (1770–1847), English-born farmer and political figure in Upper Canada *James Crocket Wilson (1841–1899), Canadian MP from Quebec ...
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 Natural rights and legal rights are the two basic types of 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 rights, 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 State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), '' ...

Virginia
but also ancient
Sparta Sparta (Doric Greek Doric or Dorian ( grc, Δωρισμός, Dōrismós) was an . Its variants were spoken in the southern and eastern as well as in , , , , , some islands in the southern and some cities on the south east coast of ...

Sparta
.


Property rights

There are two main views on the right to property, the traditional view and the
bundle of rights The bundle of rights is a metaphor to explain the complexities 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 pr ...
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 A jurist is a person with expert knowledge of law; someone who analyses and comments on law. This person is usually a specialist legal scholarnot necessaril ...

William Blackstone
, 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 In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions writ ...
,'' 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 The bundle of rights is a metaphor to explain the complexities 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 pr ...
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.


American property rights

The United States Fifth Amendment protects the right to private property in two ways. First, it states that a person may not be deprived of property by the government without “due process of law.” Secondly, it states "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." This line limits the power of the practice of
eminent domain Eminent domain (United States, Philippines), land acquisition (India, Malaysia, Singapore), compulsory purchase/acquisition (Australia, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom), resumption (Hong Kong, Uganda), resumption/compulsory acquis ...
. Under the Fifth Amendment, such takings must be for a “public use” and require “just compensation” at market value for the property seized. The United States puts limitations on what one can own. One can generally not own water, air, or wild animals.


Priority

Different parties may claim a competing interest in the same property by mistake or by
fraud In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by ...

fraud
, 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 binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview ...

contract
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 An easement is a nonpossessory right to use and/or enter onto the real property of another without possessing it. It is "best typified in the right of way which one landowner, A, may enjoy over the land of another, B". It is similar to covenant ...
, covenants, and
equitable servitudes An equitable servitude is a term used in the law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced ...
. 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 (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to the United States. Cur ...

license
. 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 Personal rights are the rights that a person has over their own body. In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Personal Rights are defined as "rights (as of personal security, personal liberty, and private property) appertaining to the person". Among per ...
. Practically all contemporary
societies A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to the same Politics, political authority ...
acknowledge this basic
ontological Ontology is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Ph ...
and
ethic Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of min ...
al distinction. In the past, groups lacking
political power In social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was formerly used to refe ...
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, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property Property is a system of rights that give ...
.) More commonly, marginalized groups have been denied legal rights to own property. These include
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), ...

Jews
in
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, 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 of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
and married women in
Western societies The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. ...
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 person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic by Logical consequence, drawing conclusio ...

reputation
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 An organ is a group of tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many organs that co-exist in organ systems. A given organ's tissues can be broadly categorized as parenchyma Parenchyma () is the bulk of functional ...
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 An embryo is the early stage of development of a multicellular organism A multicellular organism is an organism tha ...

fetus
. For example, government intervention that controls the conditions of birthing by prohibiting or requiring
caesarian section Caesarean section, also known as C-section, or caesarean delivery, is the surgical procedure Surgery ''cheirourgikē'' (composed of χείρ, "hand", and ἔργον, "work"), via la, chirurgiae, meaning "hand work". is a medical or dental s ...
s. 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 Pregnancy discrimination is a type of employment discrimination Employment discrimination is a form of discrimination based on race, gender, religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, ...
.
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
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 or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority to judge, adjudi ...
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 Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, a " quasi-property" interest has been explicitly declared in the
dead body A cadaver or corpse is a dead human body that is used by medical students A medical school is a tertiary educational institution, or part of such an institution, that teaches medicine, and awards a professional degree for physicians and surge ...
. Also in the United States, it has been recognised that people have an alienable proprietary "
right of publicity The right of publicity, sometimes referred to as personality rights, is the right of an individual to control the commercial use of one's identity, such as name, image, likeness, or other unequivocal identifiers. It is generally considered a proper ...
" over their "persona". The patent/patenting of
biotechnological Biotechnology is a broad area of biology, involving the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make products. Depending on the tools and applications, it often overlaps with related scientific fields. In the late 20th and early 21st c ...

biotechnological
processes and products based on
human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A speci ...

human
genetic material 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 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 o ...
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 A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, g ...
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 general word for the group of specialized words or meanings relating to a particular field, and also the study of such terms and their use. This is also known as terminology science. Terms are words and compound words or multi-w ...

terminology
. 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 Estate or The Estate may refer to: Law * Estate (law), a term in common law for a person's property, entitlements and obligations * Estates of the realm, a broad social category in the histories of cert ...
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, ...
involves rights to real property, a
leasehold estate A leasehold estate is an ownership Ownership is the state or fact of exclusive right In Anglo-Saxon law Anglo-Saxon law (Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English i ...
is typically considered personal property, being derived from
contract law A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview ...
. In the
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
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 genera ...

real estate
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 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 , 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 o ...

gift
, or through
inheritance Inheritance is the practice of passing on private property Private property is a legal designation for the ownership of property by non-governmental legal entities. Private property is distinguishable from public property Public property i ...

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 Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be i ...
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 A will or testament is a legal document that expresses a person's ( testator) wishes as to how their property (estate (law), estate) is to be distributed after their death and as to which ...
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 Intestacy is the condition of the estate of a person who dies without having in force a valid will Will may refer to: Common meanings * Will and testament A will or testament is a legal document that expresses a person's ( testator) wishe ...
, 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. ...

bankrupt
, 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 sale A tax sale is the forced sale of property (usually 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 inte ...
s 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, Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom), resumption (Hong Kong, Uganda), resumption/compulsory acquis ...
. 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 Inheritance is the practice of passing on private property Private property is a legal designation for the ownership of property by non-governmental legal entities. Private property is distinguishable from public property Public property i ...

inheritance
,
interest In finance Finance is the study of financial institutions, financial markets and how they operate within the financial system. It is concerned with the creation and management of money and investments. Savers and investors have money availa ...

interest
) or in terms of liabilities (
debt Debt is an obligation that requires one party, the debtor A debtor or debitor is a legal entity (legal person) that owes a debt Debt is an obligation that requires one party, the debtor, to pay money or other agreed-upon value to ...

debt
). In the case of
bankruptcy Bankruptcy is a legal process through which people or other entities who cannot repay debts to creditor A creditor or lender is a party 300px, '' Hip, Hip, Hurrah!'' (1888) by Peder Severin Krøyer, a painting portraying an artists' par ...

bankruptcy
of a
lender A creditor or lender is a party 300px, '' Hip, Hip, Hurrah!'' (1888) by Peder Severin Krøyer, a painting portraying an artists' party in 19th century Denmark A party is a gathering of people who have been invited by a host A host is ...

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 (the Lessor (leasing), ''lessor'') for use of an asset. Property, buildings and vehicles are common assets that are leased. Industrial o ...

lease
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 is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

agriculture
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, or built-up area, 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 city, cities, towns, conurbat ...
s. The modern law of
landlord A landlord is the owner of a house A house is a single-unit residential building A building, or edifice, is a structure with a roof and walls standing more or less permanently in one place, such as a house or factory. Buildings come in a ...
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 An economic system, or economic order, is a system of Production (economics), production, allocation of resources, resource allocation and Distribution (economics), d ...
'' philosophy that dominated the law of
contract A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview ...

contract
and the law of property in the 19th century. With the growth of
consumerism Consumerism is a and economic order that encourages the acquisition of in ever-increasing amounts. With the , but particularly in the 20th century, led to —the of goods would grow beyond consumer , and so manufacturers turned to and to ...
, the law of
consumer protection Consumer protection is the practice of safeguarding buyers of goods and services, and the public, against unfair practices in the marketplace fa:بازار A market, or marketplace, is a location where people regularly gather for the pu ...
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 that is 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 Property law is the area of law that governs the various forms of ownership in real property (land) and personal property. Property refers to legally protected claims to resources, such as land and personal property, includi ...
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 Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...

Communism
/ 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 communist societies such as Russia and China today have forms of private property laws to encourage economic activity. Private property laws spur agency and individual responsibility. 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 Claim clubs, also called actual settlers' associations or squatters' clubs, were a nineteenth-century phenomenon in the American West The Western United States (also called the American West, the Far West, and the West) is the region In geograp ...
*
Conversion (law) Conversion is an intentional tort A tort, in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated i ...
*
Detinue In tort law A tort, in common law jurisdiction, is a civil wrong (other than breach of contract) that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. It can include intentio ...
*
Escheat Escheat is a common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person ...
*
Rei vindicatio ''Rei vindicatio'' is a legal action by which the plaintiff A plaintiff ( Π in legal shorthand) is the party who initiates a lawsuit A lawsuit is a proceeding by a party or parties against another in the civil court of law. The archaic ...
*
Replevin Replevin () or claim and delivery (sometimes called revendication) is a legal remedy A legal remedy, also referred to as judicial relief or a judicial remedy, is the means with which a court of law, usually in the exercise of Civil law (common law ...
*
Torrens title Torrens title is a land registration Land registration generally describes systems by which matters concerning ownership Ownership is the state or fact of exclusive rights and control over property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the A ...

Torrens title
*
Trover Trover () is a form of lawsuit in common-law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals A tribunal, generally, is any per ...
* Infectious invalidity


Property law in different jurisdictions

*Property law in the United States, United States property law *English property law * 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 Property law, Common law legal systems Common law