4 Property law

Introduction

Property law is law that relates to ownership of real property. Real property is as distinct from intellectual property, a subcategory of property law.

Movable property is personal property (also known as chattels), whereas immovable property is real estate (land) and the associated rights and obligations.
Classically, all property was owned by the monarch (king or queen), and leased to feudal ownership.

Property rights

Property rights are rights over things enforceable against all other persons, which is as contrasted with contractual rights, which are only enforceable against particular persons signed to the contract.

Note that license to use a property does not confer property interest.

Easements are rights to use real property (of another) without possessing it. These have classically included:

  • Right-of-way, which are generally sidewalks or mutual driveways
  • Easements of support, meaning the right to prevent a neighbor from digging too deep so as to deprive the neighbor of their support for their structures
  • Easements of “light and air”, meaning the right to receive a minimum quality of light and air
  • Rights pertaining to artificial waterways

Covenants are conditions tied to the land, regardless of the owner (only a covenant in gross imposes restrictions on a particular owner).

Chattels, personal property (aka personalty) are personal property that can be moved from a location to another.

There is also increasing question as to whether body parts are property. In Australia, they aren’t considered property so you can’t sell your blood, whereas they are in the United States.

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