Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of emphyteusis


civil law

  1. A long-term (many years or in perpetuity) rental of land or buildings including the exclusive enjoyment of all product of that land and the exercise of all property rights typically reserved for the property owner such as mortgaging the property for the term of the emphyteusis or permitting a right of way.

Definition of emphyteusis



  1. (law) A right to enjoyment of property with a given stipulation that the property will be improved or maintained in an agreed upon manner.

Usage notes

  • In the Province of Québec this is a right occasionally given to people maintaining government property for periods between 10 and 100 years at a time.

Related terms

Further reading

The Law of Emphyteusis is a right, susceptible of assignment and of descent, charged on productive real estate, the right being coupled with the enjoyment of the property on condition of taking care of the estate and paying taxes, and sometimes the payment of a small rent.

Akin to a system of serfdom, this practice emerged in some South American colonies during the time of colonization. Based on Roman law, the Spanish preserved it and brought it to the colonies. Of Roman origin, the practice of emphyteusis appeared in the early empire and was initially granted by the state for agricultural purposes, or for building on land.

Such a lease involves the dismemberment of a usus, fructus, and abusus to an emphyteutic lessee, and typically includes:

  • An immovable;
  • Right to make full use of immovable;
  • A term stipulated in the agreement; and
  • Obligation to make improvements that durably increase the value of the land, which will belong to land owner at the end of emphyteusis.

Emphyteusis is typically created for a term of 10 - 100 years. When an emphyteutic lease ends, the owner regains real rights of usus, abusus, and fructus to the immovable.


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


1.     landed property
2.     common stock
3.     lex situs
4.     lex causae
5.     lex fori
6.     status quo
7.     buggery
8.     conclusive presumption
9.     interlocutory
10.     writ of seizure and sale