Property Rights


Property rights

According to our textbook, real estate refers to the physical land and structures in property, while real property consists of the legal interests associated with the ownership of the physical property. These two terms are nearly synonymous, so much so that you’ll have a difficult time finding an answer to the differences between the two if you do a Google search. To reiterate, real estate refers to the actual physical property while real property is a legal term referring to the ownership of of the real estate.

The question often arises, “What rights do I have with my own property?” While it might seen like you should be able to do whatever you want with your own property, there are actually quite a few rules concerning what you can do with your real estate. Consequently, from time to time, people do things with their own real estate that upsets other people and a dispute arises. The people involved go through a lot of trouble and stress and money to prove they’re right while everyone else gets to watch. Here is a link to an example of a dispute over property rights:

In this case, there’s a dispute between a landowner who wants his property to keep it’s “mixed use” designation, a group of conservationists who want to preserve the land due to the Civil War history involved with it, and the U.S. Navy who don’t want residential homes built in the area because how it would interfere with the training that goes on at a specialized base there. Read the article and decide whose rights are the right rights…



Like I mentioned before, you can’t just do whatever you want with your real estate. You might upset your neighbors, or the HOA or the nearly-extinct frog that decided to hop through your yard. If the world was all yours, you could do whatever you wanted but we have to share so there are restrictions with what we can do. Here, I’m discussing Private Restrictions on ownership. These include, covenants, conditions, and restrictions, liens, easements, profit a prendre, adverse posession and encroachments. Here’s a quick definition for each.

  • Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions- private encumbrances that limit the way a property owner can use a property.
  • Lien- claim on a property as either security for a debt or fulfillment of some monetary charge or obligation.
  • Easement- a right given to one party by a landowner to use the land in a specified manner.
  • Profit a Prendre- a nonpossessory interest in real property that permits the holder to remove a part of the soil or produce of the land.
  • Encroachment- an authorized invasion or intrusion of a fixture, a building, or other improvement onto another person’s property.
  • Adverse Possession- allows individuals to acquire title to land they do not own because they have openly possessed it for a statutory period of time.

There’s a lot to each of those subjects but that’s a quick break-down of each. To further explain, here’s a link to an article involving Private Restrictions on ownership:

This article is about everybody’s favorite real estate topic- Adverse Possession. A lady in Coral Springs, Florida (who has been evicted 9 times in the past 10 years) remained in her duplex she has on lease after failing to pay rent and is refusing to leave. Florida has sketchy adverse possession laws though so her landlord is having trouble removing her from his property. Read on to find out details about the story.



Along with the many Private Restrictions on real estate are several Public Restrictions on ownership as well. The government has to get in on the game of restricting property rights as well. These restrictions come from certain powers that governments hold. These powers, with a quick definition, follow:

  • Taxation- the ability of a government to levy property and income taxes.
  • Eminent Domain-the ability of a government to acquire property for a public use, even if the owner doesn’t want to sell as long as the owner receives “just compensation”.
  • Police Power- the power of regulation in order to protect the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare.
  • Escheat- the power of a government to acquire property if a owner dies without a will or living relative.

There is no shortage of juicy disputes concerning Public Restrictions on ownership. Here’s a link to an article of one:

This article describes a family who owns a parcel of land with a dirt bike track on it, which the local government is grabbing up on a basis of eminent domain. Unfortunately, the property has been appraised at about half the value the owner bought it at and it seems as if he has no defense against the governments power of eminent domain. That’s unfortunate, because, being a dirt biker myself, I know how fun it is.


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