Sooner or later, most of us will find ourselves in the middle of a real estate transaction. We could be buying, selling, or inheriting real property. Or, we could be involved in a real estate dispute involving easement, for instance. Whether you’re a property owner, investor, developer, or a tenant, you will need a basic understanding of real estate law when dealing with issues related to real property.
Here are some of the things you need to know about real estate law.
Real estate law
Real estate law is usually defined as a branch of civil law that governs who may possess, use, and enjoy land and all its permanent man-made attachments.
In the United States, real estate law requirements vary considerably from state to state. That’s because all the land within the borders of every state falls under its exclusive jurisdiction. Whatever the form and effect of a real property transfer within its jurisdiction, that particular state has the power to decide.
Aside from the purchase or sale of real property, the renting or leasing of residential or commercial property is also typically regulated by states.
Even the way landowners use their property may also be considerably impacted not only by state laws but by other local laws as well. Development and construction projects, for example, are subject to environmental and zoning laws. In many modern residential communities, the rules implemented by community or homeowner associations or HOAs often dictate what owners can and cannot do with their property.
Real property is one of two main types of property, the other one being personal property. Whenever “real property” is mentioned, it generally refers to land, the structures erected on it, crops or plants growing on it, or anything of a permanent nature that is affixed to it. The term land also applies to anything underneath it such as oil, gas, and mineral deposits.
Protection for landlords and tenants alike
Both the landlord and the tenant have rights, and real estate law protects both. If a tenant has been badly remiss in paying rent, for example, the landlord has the right to evict that tenant.
And when the landlord goes overboard in, say, implementing rules that appear to be unreasonable, real estate law offers a variety of legal options for the tenant that will remedy the situation. The same law also states clearly what a tenant can or cannot do within the property he or she is renting.
Sale or transfer of real property
Ideally, real estate sales or the transfer of property should be in writing. The concerned parties must execute and deliver a deed, complete with a clear and proper description of the land in question, in order to pass title. In some states, officially recording the deed is necessary as it establishes property ownership as well as provide subsequent purchasers notice of the real property’s transfer.
Aside from real estate law, any agreement between a buyer and a real estate seller is also governed by general principles of contract law as well as individual state laws.
The Bundle of Rights
Every real estate title holder is afforded by real estate law with a bundle of rights, which are as follows:
- The right of possession—This refers to the rights of the titleholder, who is the rightful, legal owner of a given property.
- The right of control—Titleholders hold the power to use that property and do whatever they want with it as long as it’s in keeping with existing laws and rules.
- The right of exclusion—This allows the titleholder to limit who can access their property. Unless the law requires it, the owner of the property can block anyone from entering its premises.
- The right of enjoyment—Titleholders can hold or participate in lawful activities that give them happiness and pleasure within the property.
- The right of disposition—A titleholder can transfer the ownership of the property temporarily by virtue of a lease or permanently through a sale.
When you get involved in a real property transaction, it’s always best to seek the expertise of a real estate attorney. After all, real estate law is considered by many as a complex field, and a skilled and experienced real estate lawyer can help you navigate it with great results.