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Property I
University of Illinois School of Law
Reynolds, Laurie Jo

Reynold’s Favorites:
Parade of horribles
1) Can x be a y? 2) Is this x a y?
Possession of Property
·         Basic rights of property ownership:
o        Use
o        Transfer (Alienability)
o        Exclusivity
·         Roles of property ownership:
o        Protect an individual owner’s interests against those of society
o        Protect society’s rights against those of the individual owner
o        Balance owner’s right to enjoy property against society’s right to interferes, or another individual property owner’s rights
·         First-in-time rule: generally, prior possessors have a stronger right of ownership.
·         Possession:
o        Intent – an intent to possess on the part of the possessor
o        Physical control: actually controlling or holding the property
§         Constructive possession – legal fiction giving possession without actual possession (or knowledge)
·         Land owners own from the center of the earth up to the heavens
·         People do not own their own body parts as property
·         Remedies available to the prior possessors
o        Trover: recover monetary value of property
o        Replevin: recover the actual property (specific performance)
·         Generally, prior possessor – even a thief – has rights against all but the original owner
o        Rewards honesty
o        Protects owners without proof of ownership
o        Prior possessors expect to prevail
·         Private Place: When the item is found in a private place, the owner of that place is generally considered to be in constructive possession of all objects therein and will win over the finder:
o        Object found in private residence
§         Except when owner of residence has never moved in and made it “private” – then finder wins
o        Object found under or embedded in soil on private property
o        Object found on private property by someone with limited right of access – pool boy, employee
·         Public Place: when the item is found in a public place, the circumstances of its placement govern:
o        Lost: item is accidentally placed, dropped, etc.
§         Goes to finder
o        Mislaid: item is intentionally placed, but accidentally left – wallet left at checkout
§         Goes to owner of location where found
o        Abandoned: item is intentionally placed with no intention to return
§         Goes to finder
Bona Fide Purchaser
·         General rule is that a seller can transfer no better title than he has.
·         Bona Fide Purchaser’s can receive better title than the seller when all of the following are true:
o        BFP paid fair market value
o        BFP had honest belief he was acquiring good title
o        Under circumstances that would not lead him to believe otherwise
o        The item was not stolen by the seller – the owner had to intend to pass possession to the seller

he gift
o        Gift is considered “complete” only when the donor dies without revoking the gift. 
o        If the donor survives the life-threatening situation that prompted the gift, it is automatically revoked
o        Must still be delivered and accepted, per gift inter vivos above
o        The relationship between donative intent and delivery is elastic
o        Belief of imminent death is subjective, however the existence of the condition must be objectively present
o        Courts do not favor gifts causa mortis since this is essentially the same power as a will without the formalities. Consequently, the burden of proof is high
·         Note: even though someone gives a gift when they are “at death’s door,” it may still be a gift inter vivos if they did not intend for the gift to be revocable should they survive; i.e.: a birthday gift
·         Note: when the gift is already in possession of the donee, donative intent must be clear and convincing
·         Tenant has a leasehold interest in landlord’s property – there are three kinds
Term for years: usually specifies a start date, and must specifiy and end date or term