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Property II
St. Johns University School of Law
DiLorenzo, Vincent M.

 
EXAM FORMAT: 3 questions: Promise? Breach? Remedy?
 
Essential promise – you can get termination
Dependent promise – rent abatement
 
 
 
I. Estates in Land
 
6 Types:
 
Freehold – (nowadays, no significance) – at early CL, if you were the owner of a freehold estate, you owed services to the lord (military services, other services). Obligation to the crown b/c freeholder has seisen (i.e. title to property).   Tenants seised of the land were responsible for feudal services, and feudal law decreed that someone must be seised!
 
 
1)       fee simple estate
2)       life estate
3)       fee tail
 
Nonfreehold estate – at early CL law, you did not owe services to the lord. Not considered to be estates, but merely personal Ks. Leaseholder has possession only. 
 
4)       estate for years – an estate fixex on a calendar date, such as a term of five years or one year or six months – very common today in commercial and residential leasing.
5)       estate from year to year – monthly tenancy
6)       estate at will
 
 
Words of Purchase and Words of Limitation:
 
Words of Purchase: Words that describe who has an interest: (i.e. O to A).
–          at early CL, if this was all, the default rule was that A had a life estate, b/c all land was owned by the crown!
–          In order to change this, you needed special words that told the owlrd that this was not a life estate, but rather, a fee simple estate:
Words of Limitation: words that describe the type of estate created.
–          at early CL, words required to create a fee simple estate: (O to A and his heirs)
–          if “and his heirs” were not the EXACT words used at early CL, court would say you created a life estate.
 
Over time, demanding requirement and default changed:
Default rule now: fee simple – so, if estate reads now simply “O to A” and nothing more, we know it’s a fee simple estate
–          also, you do not need any particular words of limitation to indicate a fee simply, but if you do, any one of them will satisfy default rule.
 
Today – we focus on intention: look at all the words used and ascertain intention. 
–          however, if you use particular words, everyone understands that you intend to create a fee simple estate by “and his heirs”
 
 
 
 
Heirs defined – statutes in every state define who will inherit if A dies intestate: these are hei

egory: (Fee Simple Subject to a Covenant) – if violated, leads to injunctive relief or damages, but never forfeiture! It is a restriction, such as “to be used as a school”..
 
 
Although the next two involve the transfer of title (we don’t’ realy speak of holder of a life estate as having title).
–          the difference is that there is a condition imposed on the next two, where, after breach of condition, there is a forfeiture. In event of forfeiture, you lose your title. 
 
Example: “O to A so long as the parcel is sued as a 1 family residence”
–          Condition – must be used as a 1 family residence.
 
2. Fee simple subject to condition subsequent: (in NY – fee on condition) – not automatic, need court order
 
o        you do not call it a reversionary interest, you technically call it a “right of reentry”. This makes it clear it is not automatic. 
 
Keyword:
You ALWAYS have to say “right of reentry” as seen in Mechan court.