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The Legal Rules for Owning Real Property


transfer of a right under a contract or lease.

community property

device used in the western US and winsconsin to share equally property that was acquired during marriage from the work efforts for both partners; excludes gifts, inheiritances, and prior owned property.

concurrent ownership

ownership of real property when there is more than one owner.

conditional fee

a fee simple with a condition that, if it occurs, will cause the owner to lose the property automatically, without the holder of the reversionary interest having to do anything; also called fee simple defeasible, base fee, or qualified fee.


form of building ownership in which a corporation owns a real property and its shareholders are its tenants.

constructive eviction

legal doctrine under which the tenant can move out and break the lease when the landlord does not keep the premises in proper condition; usually used in residential conditions.

contingent remainder

potential right to take the property; before the holder of this interest can take the property, in addition to the demise of the property holder, one or more conditions must be met.


rights of the husband in the wife's real property; from midieval law.


written document used to transfer real property.

dominant tenement

piece of property that has a right attached to it which permits its owner to use another's property for a specific purpose.


rights of the wife in the husband's real property; from medieval law.

easement appurtenant

easement that runs with the land; stays with the land and is transferred when the land is transferred, usually by deed; not tied to a particular person's right to use the land.

easement in gross

irrevocable personal right to use the land; does not go with the land; tied to the person.


generic term for describing the type of interest one has in a parcel of real property; can also mean a person's entire net worth.

estate for years

estate that is for a specific tie period, such as one year, nine months, or twelve years.

fee simple absolute

maximum bundle of rights that a person can own in a particular piece of real property.

fee simple on condition subsequent

estate where the reversionary interest holder must re-enter the property to regain ownership of that property; there is no retransfer.

freehold estate

estate in fee or a life estate.

future interests

rights of persons to take a parcel of real estate after another person's interest has ceased.

joint tenancy with the right of survivorship

ownership form in which two or more parties own the same property and have:
1) the same interests in the entire property and;
2) the survivor between/among them takes the entire property.


owner of the property that is being leased.


written agreement between the person who owns the real property and the person who will use the real property.


interest in the property that the lessee has under the lease; sometimes used to refer to the actual piece of property.

leasehold estate

interest of the person who uses the property under a lease with an owner.


personal right to use real property; difficult to distinguish from an easement in gross.

life estate

interest in a parcel of real property that a person has for the duration of his/her own life or for the life of another; a freehold estate.

life tenant

person who has a life estate.


legal proceeding to break a joint tenancy so that one party can transfer his/her portion out of it.

periodic tenancy

holding of a parcel of real property for a time period that is repeated again and again.

possibility of reverter

interest of the party who would take the property if the condition stated in the grant of a conditional fee occured.

profit a` prendre

right of a third party to use the land to make money.


right of another party to take the land when the current user's interest has expired.


person who has a remainder.


right of the original owner or grantor, her heirs, or her transferees to have the property returned when the user's interest has expired.

right of reverter

right to have interests revert to the holder.

right of survivorship

rights accruing to a person who outlives his/her fellow owners in a joint tenancy with a right of survivorship.

servient tenement

parcel of land which a party other than the owner has rights to use the property for a specific purpose.


act by a joint tenant that destroys the joint tenancy, usually by selling or mortgaging the property.


act by the lessee of real property to set up a new, separate lease for a portion of the lease period with a third party; often done without involvement of the landlord.


person who has the right to use property under a lease; also called lessee.


rights the owner grants to another so that the other may occupy or use the property.

tenancy at sufferance

estate that arises when the tenant was origionally in possession legally, usually under a lease, but the lease ended and the tenant remained in possession, without permission. The tenant remains at the sufferance of the landlord.

tenancy at will

tenancy in which either party is able to terminate the tenancy when he/she chooses.

tenancy by the entireties

a way for husband and wife to hold real property; has survivorship and cannot be broken by partition;abolished in many states.

tenancy in common

ownership form when two or more parties own the same property and have the same interest in the entire property.

vested remainder

remainder that has only one contingent event to occur before the remainderman takes the property.


current owner's use of the land in a manner that damages the interests of the other future interest holder.

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