Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Acronyms, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to property: property tax, property room
n. anything that is owned by a person or entity. Property is divided into two types:“real property” which is any interest in land, real estate, growing plants or theimprovements on it, and “personal property” (sometimes called “personalty”) whichis everything else. “Common property” is ownership by more than one person of thesame possession. “Community property” is a form of joint ownership betweenhusband and wife recognized in several states. “Separate property” is propertyowned by one spouse only in a community property state, or a married woman’ssole ownership in some states. “Public property,” refers to ownership by agovernmental body such as the federal, state, county or city governments or theiragencies (e.g. school or redevelopment districts). The government, and, inparticular, the courts are obligated to protect property rights and to help clarifyownership. (See: real property, personal property, personalty, common property, community property, separate property, public property)
Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.
things and rights that can be owned or that have a money value.Property also signifies a beneficial right to a thing. In English law, property is either realty, which comprises freehold land, or personalty, which comprises everythingelse, including leasehold land and land held on trust for sale; pure personalty is theterm used to denote chattels and other forms of personal property having noconnection with land.
In relation to goods, because of the Sale of Goods Act 1979, there will be anidentifiable instant at which the ownership or right of property in the goods passesfrom seller to buyer. The importance of ascertaining the precise time lies not only inquestions of risk but also in cases of insolvency where the destination of the goodsto a trustee in bankruptcy, receiver or liquidator can leave the other party to thetransaction only with the right to rank for a dividend as a general creditor. The Actprovides that property passes when it is intended to pass, i.e. the traditio, orphysical transfer, required by the civil law is not required. Property does not pass inunascertained goods. If the parties’ intention cannot be determined, certain rules arelaid down to resolve the matter.
Rule 1: where there is an unconditional contract for the sale of specific goods in adeliverable state, the property in the goods passes to the buyer when the contract ismade; it is immaterial whether the time of payment or the time of delivery, or both,be postponed.
Thus, in the case of a sale in a shop to a customer of an item identified in the shop,property will pass when the contract is formed. Rule 2: where there is a contract forthe sale of specific goods and the seller is bound to do something to the goods forthe purpose of putting them into a deliverable state, the property does not pass untilthe thing is done and the buyer has notice that it has been done. The requirementfor notice is important if the rules relating to risk are considered. As risk normallypasses with property, this notice would have the effect of transferring property to thebuyer, who then should consider insuring the goods, even although they are outwithhis possession.
Rule 3: where there is a contract for specific goods in a deliverable state but theseller is bound to weigh, measure, test or do some other act or thing with referenceto the goods for the purpose of ascertaining the price, the property does not passuntil this has been done and the buyer has notice that it has been done.
It is important to distinguish Rule 3 from Rule 2. Rule 2 refers to goods that are notin a deliverable state whereas Rule 3 refers to goods that are in a deliverable state.
Rule 4: when goods are delivered to the buyer on approval, or on sale or return, orother similar terms, the property in the goods passes to the buyer:
- (a) when he signifies his approval or acceptance to the seller or does anyother act adopting the transaction;
- (b) if he does not signify his approval or acceptance to the seller but retainsthe goods without giving notice of rejection, then, if a time has been fixed forthe return of the goods, on the expiration of that time, and, if no time hasbeen fixed, on the expiration of a reasonable time.
Rule 5: this rule does not apply to specific goods but to goods that at the time thecontract was made were unascertained. Where there is a contract for the sale ofunascertained or future goods by description and goods of that description and in adeliverable state are unconditionally appropriated to the contract, either by the sellerwith the assent of the buyer or by the buyer with the assent of the seller, theproperty in the goods then passes to the buyer; the assent may be express orimplied, and may be given either before or after the appropriation is made. Where,in pursuance of a contract, the seller delivers the goods to the buyer or to a carrieror other bailee or custodier (whether named by the buyer or not) for the purpose oftransmission to the buyer and does not reserve the right of disposal, he will be takento have unconditionally appropriated the goods to the contract.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
PROPERTY. The right and interest which a man has in lands and chattels to theexclusion of others. 6 Binn. 98; 4 Pet. 511; 17 Johns. 283; 14 East, 370; 11 East,290, 518. It is the right to enjoy and to dispose of certain things in the most absolutemanner as he pleases, provided he makes no use of them prohibited by law. SeeThings.
2. All things are not the subject of property the sea, the air, and the like, cannotbe appropriated; every one may enjoy them, but he has no exclusive right in them.When things are fully our own, or when all others are excluded from meddling withthem, or from interfering about them, it is plain that no person besides the proprietor,who has this exclusive right, can have any, claim either to use them, or to hinder himfrom disposing of them as, he pleases; so that property, considered as an exclusiveright to things, contains not only a right to use those things, but a right to dispose ofthem, either by exchanging them for other things, or by giving them away to anyother person, without any consideration, or even throwing them away. Rutherf. Inst.20; Domat, liv. prel. tit. 3; Poth. Des Choses; 18 Vin. Ab. 63; 7 Com. Dig. 175; Com.Dig. Biens. See also 2 B. & C. 281; S. C. 9 E. C. L. R. 87; 3 D. & R. 394; 9 B. & C.396; S. C. 17 E. C. L. R. 404; 1 C. & M. 39; 4 Call, 472; 18 Ves. 193; 6 Bing. 630.
3. Property is divided into real property, (q.v.) and personal property. (q.v.) VideEstate; Things.
4. Property is also divided, when it consists of goods and chattels, into absoluteand qualified. Absolute property is that which is our own, without any qualificationwhatever; as when a man is the owner of a watch, a book, or other inanimate thing:or of a horse, a sheep, or other animal, which never had its natural liberty in a wildstate.
5. Qualified property consists in the right which men have over wild animalswhich they have reduced to their own possession, and which are kept subject totheir power; as a deer, a buffalo, and the like, which are his own while he haspossession of them, but as soon as his possession is lost, his property is gone,unless the animals, go animo revertendi. 2 Bl. Com. 396; 3 Binn. 546.
6. But property in personal goods may be absolute or qualified without allyrelation to the nature of the subject-matter, but simply because more persons thanone have an interest in it, or because the right of property is separated from thepossession. A bailee of goods, though not the owner, has a qualified property inthem; while the owner has the absolute property. Vide, Bailee; Bailment.
7. Personal property is further divided into property in possession, and propertyor choses in action. (q.v.)
8. Property is again divided into corporeal and incorporeal. The formercomprehends such property as is perceptible to the senses, as lands, houses,goods, merchandise and the like; the latter consists in legal rights, as choses inaction, easements, and the like.
9. Property is lost, in general, in three ways, by the act of man, by the act of law,and by the act of God.
10.-1. It is lost by the act of man by, 1st. Alienation; but in order to do this, theowner must have a legal capacity to make a contract. 2d. By the voluntaryabandonment of the thing; but unless the abandonment be purely voluntary, the titleto the property is not lost; as, if things be thrown into the sea to save the ship, theright is not lost. Poth. h.t., n. 270; 3 Toull. ii. 346. But even a voluntary abandonmentdoes not deprive the former owner from taking possession of the thing abandoned,at any time before another takes possession of it.
11.-2. The title to property is lost by operation of law. 1st. By the forced sale,under a lawful process, of the property of a debtor to satisfy a judgment, sentence,or decree rendered against him, to compel him to fulfill his obligations. 2d. Byconfiscation, or sentence of a criminal court. 3d. By prescription. 4th. By civil death.6th. By capture of a public enemy.
12.-3. The title to property is lost by the act of God, as in the case of the death ofslaves or animals, or in the total destruction of a thing; for example, if a house beswallowed up by an opening in the earth during an earthquake.
13. It is proper to observe that in some cases, the moment that the owner loseshis possession, he also loses his property or right in the thing: animals feraenaturae, as mentioned above, belong to the owner only while he retains thepossession of them. But, in general,’ the loss of possession does not impair the rightof property, for the owner may recover it within a certain time allowed by law. Vide,generally, Bouv. Inst. Index, b. t.