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Set one for LAP 108 Property Law for Paralegals/Legal Assistants. Definitions are from the California Realtors Glossary and/or text.

Real Property

Land and anything growing on, attached to, or erected on it, excluding anything that
may be severed without injury to the land.


Goods or every species of property, movable or immovable, which are not real property.
Personal property.

Improvement (to real property)

Developments of land or structures on property that do more than merely replace, repair or restore the original condition. Improvements are characterized as being permanent and adding to the value of the property.


Fixtures are goods that become attached to real property. An object is a fixture if a reasonable person would consider the item to be a permanent part of the property.

Subterranean Rights

(aka mineral rights) A landowner has a right to valuable things (such as oil, minerals, and any other substances) found beneath the land's surface.


The right to make efficient use of real property resources and to exclude others from using these resources if the owner so chooses.


A characteristic of real property that allows the landowner to pass property to heirs by devise, to allow others the right to cross, to permit the excavation of resources from the property for a fee, or to sell the property to another at the owner's choosing.

Tenancy in Common

A form of real property ownership in which a cotenant can convey her interest. Upon the death of a cotenant, her property interest goes to her heirs. Each tenant has the right to partition.

Joint Tenancy

Each tenant owns a percentage of the entire property, with a right of survivorship. When one tenant dies, that tenant's ownership passes directly to the other tenant(s).


The reversion of property to the state in cases where a decedent dies intestate without heirs capable of inheriting, or when the property is abandoned

Four ways to transfer real property

1. Inheritance (by devise or intestacy)
2. Gift
3. Purchase
4. Adverse Possession

Sole and Separate Property

Is defined as anything acquired by a spouse before the marriage, or during the marriage by gift, devise, or bequest. This applies to both real and personal property.

Types of ownership by two or more persons

1. Tenancy in Common
2. Joint Tenancy
3. Community Property
4. Tenancy in Partnership


A court proceeding in which property is divided between parties with an ownership interest.

Partition by Kind

Also known as an "actual partition," severs the individual interest of each joint owner. Each owner ends up controlling an individual portion of the property.

Remainder Interest

The interest that belongs to some third person after the death of a measuring life in a life estate.

Tenancy in Partnership

A form of real property ownership in which the title to property is taken in the name of the business. Each party owns an undivided interest in all property so held, and has the right to pass undivided interest to heirs.


An act or omission that reduces the market value of real property.


An interest in real property

Life Estate

An estate or interest in real property, which is held for the duration of the life of some
certain person. It may be limited by the life of the person holding it or by the life of some other person.

Future Interests

An estate that either does not, or may not, entitle one to a possession or enjoyment of the real property until a future time. There is no current right to possession of the property.

Restraints on Alienation and Use

Restrictions on the transferring of property to another or on the use to which the property will be put.

Three Main Powers of Property Ownership

1. Right to Possession
2. Right to Use
3. Right to Dispose


A person who transfers his or her interest in property to another by grant


A person to whom a grant is conveyed (the person receiving the interest).


A technical legal term in a deed of conveyance bestowing an interest in real property on another. The words "convey" and "transfer" have the same effect.

Fee Simple Absolute

Absolute ownership. The greatest interest that one can have in real property. An estate that is without restriction, of indefinite duration, freely transferable and inheritable.

Fee Simple on Condition Subsequent

This estate has the potential of infinite duration, but it can be terminated or limited by language in a deed or other document executed at the time of conveyance.

Quiet Title Action

A court action brought to establish clear title; to remove a cloud on the title. It is used to determine who has rightful ownership in real property.


Indicates a position of lawful ownership and right to property. It is the "Bundle of Rights" possessed by an owner.

Life Estate

An estate or interest in real property, which is held for the duration of the life of some
certain person or persons. It may be limited by the life of the person holding it or by the life of some other person. The Life Tenant is entitled to the possession, use, and enjoyment of the property, but may not commit waste

Reversion Interest

The interest is the interest in real property that may be claimed by a grantor of property upon the happening of some event

Remainder Interest

An estate which takes effect after the termination of the prior estate, such as a life estate. A future possessory interest in real estate.


The destruction, or material alteration of, or injury to premises by a tenant.


The party who has legal possession and use of real property belonging to another

Adverse Possession

a means by which, in very limited circumstances, a party can acquire good title to real property by occupying the property continuously for five years or more against the wishes of the landowner. In California, the party must also pay taxes on the property, enclose the property, and improve the property.


The right to convey or transfer property.

Community Property

any asset acquired or income earned by a married person while living with his or her spouse; all property acquired during marriage by labor of either spouse

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