Property Concepts and Property Law
Concept of property - Black's Law Dictionary (5th ed. 1979) states that in a strict
legal sense property is an aggregate of rights protected by government.” Property
includes not only ownership and possession but also right of use and enjoyment of
property. Property law is rooted in English common law, which divides personal and
real property. Real property concerns rights to land. Personal property concerns
rights to chattels. Property law governs ownership in real property (land as distinct
from personal or movable possessions) and in personal property. In civil law, there is
division between movable and immovable property. Movable property corresponds to
personal property, while immovable property corresponds to real estate or real
property. The basic distinction of property in common law is real property (land) and
personal property (chattels). Land is immovable. However, fixtures are chattels affixed
to or placed on land, which become part of the land.
Property rights - The notion of property arises when one has their right to land or
chattels respected and enforced by a court of law. Therefore to possess good title
(enforceable rights) on property one must acquire it legitimately, according to laws of
the jurisdiction in which one seeks enforcement. Property is the right a person has to
a thing. The right varies from lesser to greater importance such as possession;
possession and use; possession, use, and disposition respectfully.
Possession - The concept of possession arose from a legal system wanting civil
disorder avoidance. The general principle is that a person possessing land or goods,
however wrong, can take action against anyone interfering with their possession,
unless the person interfering demonstrates a superior right to interfere therein.
Land and easements - Real property can be sub-classified into tangible real
property or land (corporeal hereditament) and intangible real property or easement
Transfer of property - The typical way to acquire a property interest is by
consensual transaction with the previous owner by sale or gift. Disposing of property
by will is too a consensual transaction, because a will provides distribution of the
deceased person's property.
Conflicting interests in land - Occasionally, by fraud or mistake, several persons
claim an interest in one object, where claims are inconsistent with each other. This
occurs when the creator of the interests transfers valid title, together with creating
several interests inconsistent with each other. Here courts must resolve the conflict by
ranking the created interests.
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