Property and Ownership:

     This page is continued from Law of Property, and contains types of property (i.e. real propertypersonal propertyintellectual property, and sub-terms), and ownership-related terms, such as interestestate, and tenancyoccupancy, possession, and related sub-terms for each.



1. Collectively, the rights in a valued resource such as land, chattel: or an intangible.  *  It is common to describe property as a “bundle of rights.”  These rights include the right to possess and use, the right to exclude, and the right to transfer. — aka bundle of rights.

2. Any external thing over which the rights of possession, use, and enjoyment are exercised <the airport is city property>[1]

1. In a popular sense, a chattel or tract of land. 42 Am J1st Prop § 3.

Inclusive o both real estate and personalty. Anno: 115 ALR 553; 57 Am J1st Wills § 1338.

Inclusive of both tangibles and intangibles; that which is corporeal and that which is incorporeal. Bouse v Hutzler, 180 Md 682, 26 A2d 767, 141 ALR 843.

Strictly, that dominion or indefinite right of user, control, and disposition which one may lawfully exercise over particular things or objects. 42 Am J1st Prop § 2.

The right and interest which a man has in lands and chattels to the exclusion of others. Ralston Steel Car Co. v Ralston, 112 Ohio St 306, 147 NE 513, 39 ALR 334.

The right of a person to possess, use, enjoy, and dispose of a thing. Willcox v Penn Mut. Life Ins. Co. 357 Pa 581, 55 A2d 521, 174 ALR 220.

The free use, enjoyment, and disposal of a person’s acquisitions without control or diminution save by the law of the land. Department of Financial Institutions v General Finance Corp. 227 Ind 373, 86 NE2d 444, 10 ALR2d 436.

Not the material object itself, but the right and interest or domination rightfully obtained over such object, with the unrestricted right to its use, enjoyment, and disposition. Howlett v Doglio, 42 111 311, 82 NE2d 708, 6 ALR2d 790; Akron v Chapman, 160 Ohio St 382, 116 NE2d 697, 42 ALR2d 1140.

A species of title, inchoate or complete, legal or equitable, embracing rights which lie in contract, executory or executed. Smith v United States (US) 10 Pet 326, 9 L Ed 442.

As the term is used in the guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment-the right to acquire, possess, and enjoy particular things and objects in any way consistent with the equal rights of others and the just exactions and demands of the state. Wright v Hart, 182 NY 330, 75 NE 404; Ives v South Buffalo R. Co. 201 NY 271, 94 NE 431; all valuable interests which a man may possess outside of himself-outside of his life and liberty being more than that which a person owns. 16 Am J2d Const L § 364.

As the term appears in constitutional provisions respecting taking of property: — a word of most general import, extending to every species of right and interest, capable of being enjoyed as such, upon which it is practicable to place a money value. 26 Am J2d Em D § 173.

As used in a statutory provision authorizing a corporation to receive “property” in payment for its stock, the term is not used in its broad sense which includes anything susceptible of ownership, but is limited to that which may readily be applied to the debts of the corporation. 18 Am J2d Corp § 258. [2]

1. The right of a person to possess, use, enjoy, and dispose of a thing without restriction, i.e., not the material object itself, but  person’s rights with respect to the object.

2. Ownership of title, either legal or equitable.
     See equitable title; legal title.

3. In the more common sense, real property and personal property; tangible property and intangible property; corporeal property and incorporeal property.

4. As employed in the Fifth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment, the right to acquire, possess, and dispose of things and objects.

5. Anything that can be owned. [3]

     Excerpt from William L. Burdick’s Handbook of the Law of Real Property 2-3 (1914):

     “Property (from the Lat. proprius, meaning belonging to one; one’s own) signifies, in a strict sense, one’s exclusive right of ownership of a thing.’  In their strict meanings, therefore, the right of ownership and property are synonymous, each term signifying a bundle or collection of rights.  In a secondary meaning, however, the term ‘property’ is applied to every kind of valuable right and interest that can be made the subject of ownership, and in this sense, since it is the subject of ownership, land is called property. The term, therefore, includes both real and personal property, and it is often thus expressly defined in statutes. The word ‘property,’ however, may have different meanings, under different circumstances, according to the manner in which it is used. [4]

     Excerpt from John Salmond’s Jurisprudence (1947):

     “In its widest sense, property includes all a person’s legal rights, of whatever description. A man’s property is all that is his in law. This usage, however, is obsolete at the present day, though it is common enough in the older books. . .. In a second and narrower sense, property includes not all a person’s rights, but only his proprietary as opposed to his personal rights. The former constitute his estate or property, while the latter constitute his status or personal condition. In this sense a man’s land, chattels, shares, and the debts due to him are his property; but not his life or liberty or reputation. . . . In a third application, which is that adopted [here], the term includes not even all proprietary rights, but only those which are both proprietary and in rem. The law of property is the law of proprietary rights in rem, the law of proprietary rights in personam being distinguished from it as the law of obligations.  According to this usage a freehold or leasehold estate in land, or a patent or copyright, is property; but a debt or the benefit of a contract is not….  Finally in the narrowest use of the term, it includes nothing more than a corporeal property — that is to say, the right of ownership in a  material object, or that object itself.” [5]

Types of Property:

real property – land and anything growing on, attached to, or erected on it, excluding anything that may be severed without injury to the land.  aka realty; real estate.

  • immovable property – land, and objects so firmly attached that they are regarded as part of the land.

personal property – any movable or intangible thing that is subject to ownership and not classified as real property: i.e. money, goods, chattels, movables, a right of action, evidence of debt, stock, bond, mortgages. — aka personality; personal estate; movable estate; (in plural) things personal.

  • intangible movable – a physical thing that can be moved but that cannot be touched in the usual sense, such as a legal right, light, electricity, and radioactive waves.
  • chattel – movable, tangible property.
    • personal chattel – a tangible good or an intangible right (such as a patent).
    • real chattel – an interest in real property that is less than a freehold or fee, such as an estate for years in land (i.e. a leasehold).
    • bond – a written promise to pay money or do some act if certain circumstances occur or a certain time elapses.

intellectual property – intangible rights protecting commercially valuable products of the human intellect.

Various Conditions of Property:

abandoned property – wherein all right, title, claim, and possession is voluntarily surrendered, relinquished, or disclaimed by the (former) owner, and not vested in another person.

absolute property – wherein the owner has full and complete title and control over.

adventitious property – property coming to one from a stranger or anyone other than the paterfamilias.  — aka peculium adventitium

ancestral property (estate) – acquired by descent, especially when the owner’s family has held the property for several generations.

appointive property – property interest that is subject to a power of appointment.

Types of Interactions with Property:

ownership – the “bundle of rights” to possess, use, manage, enjoy, &/or convey property, by the person who has both title and dominion over it.

  • interest – all or part of a legal or equitable claim to or right in property; a share, claim, or title.
    • estate – the amount, degree, nature, and quality of a person’s interest in property, usually pertaining to real estate interest that may become possessory, the ownership being measured in terms of duration.

tenancy – possession or occupancy of real or personal property by right or title.

  • occupancy – the act of taking possession of something that has no apparent owner (such as abandoned property) so as to acquire legal ownership.
  • possession – the detention or use of a physical thing with the intent to hold it as one’s own.

Related Terms:

Property Act – A uniform law drawn primarily to abolish anachronisms in the law of property, to abolish many out of date characteristics which have come down from the early feudal law of England, and which are out of place in the law of today, in effect to make the law a much more modern and effective instrument and to free courts and lawyers of the present from being compelled in cases involving the title to real property, to wander in a labyrinth of ancient learning. Ellingrod v Trombla, 168 Neb 264, 95 NW2d 635. [2]

     See community property; corporeal property; incorporeal property; intangible property; literary property; mislaid property; movable property; personal property; private property; public property; qualified property; real property; tangible property; chattel. [3]

community property –

domestic-partnership property –

dotal property –

exempt property –

extradotal property –

general property –

income property –

joint property –

like-kind property –

literary property –


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

[2]: 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

[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]:  William L. Burdick, Handbook of the Law of Real Property 2-3 (1914)

[5]:  John Salmond, Jurisprudence 423-24 (Glanville L. Williams ed., 10th ed. 1947).


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