doctrine of presumed dereliction – property is considered “abandoned” when…

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presumed dereliction :

1. The doctrine that a thing is presumed to have been abandoned when it so appears by acts or circumstances, as when it is thrown away in any public place where it cannot be taken up, or where another is suffered to possess it without contradiction, or where possessory acts have long been abstained from. Rhodes v Whitehead, 27 Tex 304. [1]


1. The state of a building that is run-down and dilapidated. [2]

1. Abandonment of property; abandoned property. 56 Am J1st Wat § 476. [1]


1. Forsaken; abandoned; cast away <derelict property>.

2. (Of a building) in bad condition from long disuse; rundown and dilapidated. [2]

1. Abandoned; deserted; uninhabited. [3]


1. Gradual ruin or decay through misuse or neglect; especially damage to a building resulting from acts of either commission or omission. * A dilapidation may give rise to liability if it constitutes and act of waste, a breach of contract, or a statutory violation. dilapidate, vb. – dilapidator, n.[2]

res derelicta:

1. A thing thrown away or forsaken by its owner; abandoned property. [2]

1.Abandoned property; property from which the mind has withdrawn affection, and which has thus fallen back into the natural state of res nullius, the property of no one, and is again susceptible of becoming the property of the occupant. Rhodes v Whitehead, 27 Tex 304[1]

1. Abandoned property – the literal translation of the term is “derelict thing” (i.e. derelict property). [3]

res nullius:

1. [Latin: “thing of no one”] A thing that belongs to no one; an ownerless chattel.

1. The property of no one. [1]

     Excerpt from John George Phillimore’s Private Law Among the Romans (1863):

    “Res nullius. Such as belonged to the first occupier. They are of two kinds. Such as never have belonged to anyone, and such as have ceased to belong to the former owner.”  [4]


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[1]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[2]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: John George Phillimore, Private Law Among the Romans 18 (1863)


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