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Legal Dictionary
property
Legal Definition of property

Noun

  1. Property is commonly thought of as a thing which belongs to someone and over which a person has total control. But, legally, it is more properly defined as a collection of legal rights over a thing. These rights are usually total and fully enforceable by the state or the owner against others. It has been said that "property and law were born and die together. Before laws were made there was no property. Take away laws and property ceases." before laws were written and enforced, property had no relevance. Possession was all that mattered. There are many classifications of property, the most common being between real property or immovable property (real estate such as land or buildings) and "chattel", or "moveable" (things which are not attached to the land such as a bicycle, a car or a hammer) and between public (property belonging to everybody or to the state) and private property.

Definition of property

Pronunciation

  • (UK) IPA: /ˈpɹ'.pə(ɹ).ti/
  • (US) enPR: prŏpʹərt"ˌ, IPA: [ˈpɹɑpɚtiː]
  • Audio (US) [?]
  • Hyphenation: prop‧erty

Etymology

    From Middle English /Anglo-Norman proprete, from Middle French propreté, from Old French propriete (modern propriété), itself, from Latin proprietas, from proprius 'own'.

Noun

property (countable and uncountable; plural properties)

  1. Something that is owned.

    Leave those books alone! They are my property.

  2. A piece of real estate, such as a parcel of land.

    There is a large house on the property.
    Important types of property include real property (land), personal property (other physical possessions), and intellectual property (rights over artistic creations, inventions, etc.).


  3. real estate; the business of selling houses.

    He works in property as a housing consultant.

  4. The exclusive right of possessing, enjoying and disposing of a thing.
  5. An attribute or abstract quality associated with an individual, object or concept.

    Charm is his most endearing property

  6. An attribute or abstract quality which is characteristic of a class of objects.

    Matter can have many properties, including color, mass and density.

Synonyms

  • (something owned): belongings, owndom, possession
  • (piece of real estate): land, parcel

Further reading

Property (or owndom) is any physical or intangible entity that is owned by a person or jointly by a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property has the right to consume, sell, rent, mortgage, transfer, exchange or destroy it, or to exclude others from doing these things.

Important widely recognized types of property include real property (the combination of land and any improvements to or on the land), personal property (physical possessions belonging to a person), private property (property owned by legal persons or business entities), public property (state owned or publicly owned and available possessions) and intellectual property (exclusive rights over artistic creations, inventions, etc.), although the latter is not always as widely recognized or enforced. A title, or a right of ownership, establishes the relation between the property and other persons, assuring the owner the right to dispose of the property as the owner sees fit.

Overview

Property is usually thought of as being defined and protected by the local sovereignty. Ownership, however, does not necessarily equate with sovereignty. If ownership gave supreme authority, it would be sovereignty, not ownership. Some philosophers assert that property rights arise from social convention, while others find justifications for them in morality or natural law.

Various scholarly disciplines (such as law, economics, anthropology or sociology) may treat the concept more systematically, but definitions vary within and between fields. Scholars in the social sciences frequently conceive of property as a bundle of rights. They stress that property is not a relationship between people and things, but a relationship between people with regard to things.

Public property is any property that is controlled by a state or by a whole community. Private property is any property that is not public property. Private property may be under the control of a single person or by a group of persons jointly.

General characteristics

Modern property rights are based on conceptions of owners and possession as belonging to legal persons, even if the legal person is not a natural person. In most countries, corporations, for example, have legal rights similar to those of citizens. Therefore, the corporation is a juristic person or artificial legal entity, under a concept that some refer to as "corporate personhood".

Property rights are protected in the current laws of most states, usually in their constitution or in a bill of rights. Protection is also prescribed in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 17, and in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), Protocol 1.

Traditional principles of property rights include:

  1. control of the use of the property
  2. the right to any benefit from the property (examples: mining rights and rent)
  3. a right to transfer or sell the property
  4. a right to exclude others from the property.

Traditional property rights do not include:

  1. uses that unreasonably interfere with the property rights of another private party (the right of quiet enjoyment) (See nuisance)
  2. uses that unreasonably interfere with public property rights, including uses that interfere with public health, safety, peace or convenience.

Source: Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.




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