The state of a person who is subjected, voluntarily or involuntarily, to another person as a servant. A charge or burden resting upon one estate for the benefit or advantage of another.
INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE, which may be in the form of SLAVERY, peonage, or compulsory labor for debts, is prohibited by the THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT to the U.S. Constitution. Article I, Section 9, of the original Constitution had given Congress the power to restrict the slave trade by the year 1808, which it did, but slavery itself was not prohibited until the Thirteenth Amendment was enacted in 1865. The slave trade had begun in the American colonies in the seventeenth century and involved the forcible taking and transport of Africans and others to sell as slaves. The Thirteenth Amendment's prohibition against slavery encompasses situations where an individual is compelled by force, coercion, or imprisonment, and against his will, to labor for another, whether he is paid or not.
The term servitude is also used in PROPERTY LAW. In this context, servitude is used with the term easement, a right of some benefit or beneficial use out of, in, or over the land of another. Although the terms servitude and easement are sometimes used as synonyms, the two concepts differ. A servitude relates to the servient estate or the burdened land, whereas an EASEMENT refers to the dominant estate, which is the land benefited by the right. Not all servitudes are easements because they are not all attached to other land as APPURTENANCES (an appurtenance is an appendage or that which belongs to something else).
All servitudes affecting lands are classified as either personal or real. Personal servitudes are established for the benefit of a particular person and terminate upon the death of that individual. A common example of a personal servitude is the use of a house. Real servitudes, also called landed servitudes, benefit the owner of one estate through some use of a neighboring estate.
At CIVIL LAW, real servitudes are divided into two types: rural and urban. Rural servitudes are established for the benefit of a landed estate; examples include a right of way over a servient tenement and a right of access to a spring, sandpit, or coal mine. Urban servitudes are established for the benefit of one building over another; some examples are a right of support, a right to a view, and a right to light. Despite the name urban servitude, the buildings do not have to be in a city.
Servitudes are also classified as positive and negative. A positive servitude requires the owner of the servient estate to permit something to be done on her property by another. A negative servitude does not bind the servient owner in this manner but merely restrains her from using the property in a manner that would impair the easement enjoyed by the owner of the dominant estate.