1. Acquiring Property Rights
A. Introductory Ideas
· In our society property is something of value, an asset. It is something, in other words, which can be bought, sold, or given away. The legal system defines what it is that can be legitimately be treated by private persons as an economic asset.
· Series of rules defining a person’s relationship to a thing that others must accept:
o owner to thing
o others to thing
o others to owner.
Federal Right– Constitution doesn’t create a right to property, but provides that the state may not take it away without due process or payment of just compensation.
Law applies absent an agreement to the contrary (ex. landlords/tenants)
Common property- open to everyone (ex. park bench)
o System of rationing of access and succession (access of park bench is by priority in time, but no other rights than occupation)
o Removing assets from the property system can prevent their destruction (ex. Yellowstone, Mount Vernon)
· Rights of property owner’s includes;
1. possesses for some period of time
6. devise by will
– Real Property: includes land and permanently attached structures, crops and trees until they are severed. It also includes items that were once personal property that have been permanently affixed to the land as an improvement (“fixtures”).
– Chattels: tangible property, all other forms of property that have a corporeal existence.
– Intangible Personal Property: whenever one person has a legally enforceable claim against another (copyright, notes etc.). (Entitlements that cannot be deprived of due process).
– Title: means something more than possession, although the person with the title is often entitled to possession as well.
– Constructive Possession: arises when the law concludes that a person should be accorded the rights of a possessor even though the person may not have ever had observable possession of the thing or even have known of its existence.
Common Law Forms of Action
§ Injury done to Π’s possessory interest in either chattels or land
stolen. O can sue the repairman in trover for the value of the car
· Replevin or Detinue
§ Actions to recover possession of chattels wrongfully taken from the Π’s possession by the Δ.
§ Example: O is the TO of a car. It is taken in for repairs and repairman refuses to return it. O can sue the repairman in replevin for the actual car.
§ Action to recover possession of the Π’s real property
§ Did not necessarily require that Π prove absolute title
Ø Flemming v. Nestor
Ø Facts: Nestor emigrated to the U.S. from Bulgaria in 1913 and became eligible for age-old benefits from SS in 1955. He was deported for being a member of the Communist Party from 1933-1939. His wife who remained in the U.S. was then informed that the government would not be paying any further benefits. Nestor had lived and worked in the U.S. for 43 years.