occupancy – holding, possessing, or residing in or on something, especially a dwelling or land, coupled with the performance of act(s) to manifest a claim of exclusive control, and to indicate to the public that the actor has appropriated the land, with intent to obtain legal ownership

     This page is continued from Tenancy:



1. The act, state, or condition of holding, possessing, or residing in or on something; actual possession, residence, or tenancy, especially of a dwelling or land.  *  In this sense, the term denotes whatever acts are done on the land to manifest a claim of exclusive control and to indicate to the public that the actor has appropriated the land.  Hence, erecting and maintaining a substantial enclosure around a tract of land usually constitutes occupancy of the whole tract.

  • constructive occupancy (1814) A manifest intent to occupy property physically, followed within a reasonable time by actual occupancy.

2. The act of taking possession of something that has no owner (such as abandoned property) so as to acquire legal ownership.  See ADVERSE POSSESSION.

  • adverse possession – continuous, exclusive, hostile, open, notorious enjoyment of real property with a claim of right when that enjoyment is opposed to another person’s claim; the doctrine by which title or easement may be obtained by doing so for a specified period of time. —aka adverse dominion, though not considered an unlawful form of adverse dominion.

3. The period or term during which one owns, rents, or otherwise occupies property.

4. The quality, state, or condition of being occupied.

5. The use to which property is put.

6. The number of people who stay, work, or live in a room or building at the same time. [1]

1. Possession in fact.  The use of premises. 29A Am J Rev ed Ins § 895.

The taking possession of those things which before belonged to nobody. 42 Am J1st Prop § 34.

In reference to the rights of an occupying claimant: — such an occupancy as under the rules of the common law would entitle one to acquire a title by adverse possession, that is actual, open, and peaceable occupancy, but not necessarily occupancy as one’s dwelling place. 27 Am J1st Improv § 8.

“Physical occupancy” of property and legal possession of the same are not necessarily identical.  A person may be held in law to be in actual possession of property, thought at the time he be not physically upon it. State ex rel. Honey Island Land & Timber Co. v King, 110 La 961, 35 So 181. [2]

1. Possession in fact (see possession); the use and enjoyment of premises by a tenant, whether she holds the property under a lease, as a life tenant, or otherwise.

2. The taking possession of those things which previously belonged to no one, with the intention of acquiring a right of ownership. 

3. Physical occupancy of property and legal possession are not necessarily identical.  In the eyes of the law, a person may be in actual possession of property although he is not on the property physically. [3]

Related Terms:

occupant – (16c) 1. Someone who has possessory rights in, or control over, certain property or premises. 2. Someone who acquires title by occupancy. — aka occupier. [1]

1. One in enjoyment of the occupancy of premises.  one in actual possession, the tenant as distinguished from the landlord who has possession but not occupancy. Parsons v Prudential Real Estate Co. 86 Neb 271, 125 NW 521.
     For the purposes of the statutory requirement of notice of a proceeding for the establishment of a highway, the owner of a farm who is in the actual possession and control of it is the “occupant” thereof, although at the time he does not reside on the farm but in a village nearby.  A tenant who cultivates leased land is also an “occupant,” although he does not reside thereon. 25 Am J1st High § 24. [2]

1. A person in possession of premises, enjoying and using the property.
     See use; enjoyment. [3]

general occupant (18c) Someone who occupies land in the interim arising after the death of a par autre vie tenant but before the death of the person who serves as the measuring life for the estate.  *  The pur autre vie tenant does not state who may occupy the land after the death of the first tenant; the land can be occupied by the first possessor of the land. — aka common occupant.  Cf. CESTUI QUE VIE.

special occupant (18c) A person specifically designated in a conveyance as being entitled to a life estate if the conveyee dies before the end of the life estate; specifically, a par autre vie tenant’s heir who occupies land in the interim between the death of the tenant and the death of the person who serves as the measuring life for the estate.  *  A special occupancy can arise when the grant to the pur autre vie tenant provides that possession is for the life of the tenant, then to the tenant’s heirs.

occupying claimant – someone who claims the right under a statute to recover for the cost of improvements done to land that is later found not to belong to the person.

occupant statute – See BETTERMENT ACT.

occupare – [Latin] Civil law. To seize or take possession of (property); to enter (land) upon a vacant possession. [1]

1. To occupy; to take possession of; to lay hold of; to seize. [2]

occupatile  Hist. Property that has been left by its rightful owner and is now possessed by another.

occupatio n. Roman law. A mode of acquisition by which a person obtains absolute title by first possessing a thing that previously belonged to no one, such as a wild bird or pearls on the shore. 

 2. The possession, control, or use of real property; 0CCUPANCY.  [1]

occupancy agreement – An agreement carrying with it the right to occupy a specific apartment in a co-operative apartment building.  15 Am J2d Con Apt § 21. [2]


Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is compiled in accordance with Fair Use.

[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.


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