Property Law – Basics of Property Ownership and State Specific Laws
Property in the broadest sense is what either belongs to or on something, whether as a physical entity or as an element of that entity. The possession of something also entails that it is the subject of right of possession and the owner has exclusive right over that which he possesses, while the non-possession of something does not entail the right to ownership, but only the enjoyment of it by others. The ownership of things is however subject to certain restrictions that are legally binding. Property includes land (land and structures thereon), buildings, and anything else with a value equivalent to its monetary value.
In legal terms, the ownership of property means control over it. The ownership of a thing therefore, depends on its worth as cash or liquid assets. Usually, people own real estate (real estate being any property used for the purpose of selling or leasing) and immovable property (e.g., a house or an asset which cannot be moved). The term ‘immovable property’ in relation to real estate indicates that the property cannot be transferred or gifted and is thus quite unique from other forms of ownership.
Every state has its own property laws. However, practically, the same property laws are enforced across the country, with the differences originating from the details of the property concerned and the legal position of the owner. Generally speaking, in a property owning state, the ownership is determined by the law of its jurisdiction, i.e., the laws that govern the ownership of real estate generally. However, in relation to personal property, the possession and rights thereto remain with the parties to the contract, i.e., the person who owns it. This is true even if the property in question is bought under the form of a trust, since the title passes under the control of the trustee, who holds the legal right to dispose of it in some manner acceptable to him.
In most states, where the property is used commercially, the ownership is determined by the laws governing the commercial use of the property, i.e., the laws that specify who can own a specific property or right to use it commercially. In the case of residential property, there are usually no property laws controlling the ownership of the property. The laws that govern ownership of residential property may include restrictions on the transfer of the property or on the right to use the property for a specific purpose. Thus, the transfer or use of the property may be restricted by a condition that the property (usually the residential property) cannot be used for commercial purposes. Similarly, a restriction on the transfer of the property occurs in the case of a sale of the property.
When the property is used for residential purposes by a family, there are usually no property laws controlling the ownership. The family is regarded as the owner of the property is used as a household or place of occupation. In this instance, the laws that govern ownership of the property are generally those governing the use of the property. This situation is true even if the family lives permanently in the house, as is the case sometimes with inherited property. The house is considered a ‘personal property’ and the laws that regulate its use are based on personal law, just as they are for other properties owned by individuals.
Similarly, in cases of inherited wealth, property laws will often concern the person who has inherited the property and not the property itself. In the former case, the person who inherits the wealth will generally become the legal owner of the property but this does not mean that the property is now freehold. The title to the property is still under the control of the court that originally issued the original patent for the property. This means that the property can only be transferred legally after an authorized representative receives a legal commitment from the person who inherited the property that the title is not going to be re-versioned.