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Property Law

Personal Property, Real Property, Estates In Real Property, Possession, Eminent Domain And Zoning

There are two types of property: real property and PERSONAL PROPERTY. Most of the legal concepts and rules associated with both types of property are derived from English COMMON LAW. Modern law has incorporated many of these concepts and rules into statutes, which define the types and rights of ownership in real and personal property.

Personal property, also referred to as movable property, is anything other than land that can be the subject of ownership, including stocks, money, notes, PATENTS, and copyrights, as well as intangible property.

Real property is land and ordinarily anything erected on, growing on, or affixed to it, including buildings and crops. The term is also used to declare any rights that issue from the ownership of land. The terms real estate and real property generally refer to land. The term land, in its general usage, includes not only the face of the earth but everything of a permanent nature over or under it, including minerals, oil, and gases. In modern usage, the word premises has come to mean the land itself or the land with all structures attached. Residential buildings and yards are commonly referred to as premises.

The difference between real property and personal property is ordinarily easily recognizable. The character of the property, however, can be altered. Property that is initially personal in nature becomes part of realty by being annexed to it, such as when rails are made into a fence on land.

In certain cases, however, the intention or agreement of the parties determines whether property that is annexed retains its character as personal property. A LANDLORD AND TENANT might agree that the new lighting fixture the tenant attaches to the ceiling of her dwelling remains the tenant's property after the expiration of the lease.

Property may be further classified as either private or public. Private property is that which belongs to one or more persons. Public property is owned by a country, state, or political subdivision, such as a MUNICIPAL CORPORATION or a school district.


Hylton, J. Gordon, et al. 2003. Property Law and the Public Interest: Cases and Materials. 2d ed. Newark, N.J.: Lexis-Nexis.

Singer, Joseph William. 2002. Property Law: Rules, Policies and Practices. 3d ed. New York: Aspen Law & Business.

Sprankling, John G. 2000. Understanding Property Law. New York: Lexis.

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