Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Duhaime's Real Estate and Tenancy Law Dictionary

Duhaime's Real Estate and Tenancy Law DictionaryDuhaime's Real Estate and Tenancy Law Dictionary ... where you can hear the fire cackling ... the light pitter-patter of rain. Ok, we digress. This is where one finds those boogie-man legal terms of which real estate & tenancy law is famous, yet all bared naked in plain language so you can enter your next meeting sounding like you're Edward Coke: fee simple this, mortgagor that.

• Oh, and FYI, don't miss DUHAIME'S PROPERTY LAW DICTIONARY 'cause not every thing fixed to the ground!


Abandon
A giving up, a total desertion, an absolute relinquishment.
Abandonment
The leaving behind of property; an indifference as to the fate of a chattel.
Aboriginal Title
Indians' exclusive right to use and occupy lands they have inhabited from time immemorial, but that have subsequently become discovered by European settlers.
Abstract of Title
A statement of the conveyances and charges appearing of record and affecting the title to real property.
Acceleration Clause
A clause in a contract that states that if a payment is missed, or some other default occurs (such as the debtor becoming insolvent), then the contract is fully due immediately.
Adverse Possession
The possession of land, without legal title, for a period of time sufficient to become recognized as legal owner.
Ancient Lights
An opening through which light has flowed uninterrupted for twenty years and which can, in some circumstances, support a claim for nuisance if blocked.
Appraisal
The informed and objective inspection and estimation of a thing's worth.
Appurtenance
Something that, although detached, stands as part of another thing.
Appurtenant Easement
An easement that runs with and serves a parcel of land known as the dominant tenement, distinguished from the parcel of land on which the easement is imposed (known as the servient tenement).
Betterment
An improvement put upon a property which enhances its value more than mere replacement, maintenance, or repairs.
Boarding House
Residential premises where both shelter and food are provided.
Cadastre
French: a database of real property data within a certain jurisdiction.
Call For Tenders
A property owner's invitation, sometimes at large, sometimes to a select group, for bids to complete a particular project.
Calvo Clause
Mexican real estate law that requires that any action challenging the title of real property situated in Mexico must be litigated in Mexico and exclusively governed by Mexican law.
Caveat
Latin: let him beware. A formal warning.
Certificate of Pending Litigation
A registration or/of a notice or warning that litigation is ongoing as to ownership of a particular piece of land or other real property.
Clean Hands
A maxim of the law to the effect that any person, individual or corporate, that wishes to ask or petition a court for judicial action, must be in a position free of fraud or other unfair conduct.
Comitatus
Latin: a contract of personal services between a land lord and his men.
Common Area
Those areas of multi-owner real property which are for the exclusive use of all individual owners.
Common Law
Judge-declared law. Law which exists and applies to a group on the basis of customs and legal precedents developed over hundreds of years in Britain.
Concurrent Estates
Property interests owned by two or more persons at the same time.
Condominium
A unit or defined portion of ownership in real property, similar to an apartment.
Constructive Eviction
An implied eviction where the landlord's act or omission justifies the immediate departure of the tenant.
Contract Law
That body of law which regulates the formation and enforcement of contracts.
Co-ownership
A generic legal term that refers to various forms of ownership over one asset by more than one person.
Coparcenary
The co-ownership of property which has devolved intestate.
Covenant
A written document in which signatories either commit themselves to do a certain thing, to not do a certain thing or in which they agree on a certain set of facts.
Cuicunque Aliquis Quid Concedit Concedere Videtur Et Id Sine Quo Res Ipsa Esse Non Poluit
Latin: Whoever grants a thing is supposed also tacitly to grant that without which the grant itself would be of no effect.
Cuius Est Solum Ejus Est Usque Ad Caelum
Latin: whose is the soil, his it is even to the skies and to the depths below.
Cuius Est Solum Ejus Est Usque Ad Coelum Et Ad Inferos
Latin: for whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to heaven and down to hell.
Curtilage
The area around a home which harbors the intimate activity associated with the sanctity and privacy of it.
Dance Hall
A public hall devoted to dancing and for which admission is not based on personal selection or invitation.
Deed
A binding promise to do something or certifying a transaction which adheres to required legal rituals such as a seal or form of signature.
Defeasance
A side-contract which contains a condition which, if realized, could defeat the main contract.
Defence of Habitation
The right to use lethal force to prevent a felony committed within a person's home.
Demesne
Land held by a noble under the English feudal system, in absolute ownership.
Dependent Indian Community
(USA) Any area validly set apart for the use of the Indians under the superintendence of the Government.
Distraint
The right of a landlord to seize the property of a tenant which is in the premises being rented, as collateral against a tenant that has not paid the rent or has otherwise defaulted on the lease, such as wanton disrepair or destruction of the premises.
Distress
A common law remedy available to landlords to hold the tenant's belongings while the tenant is behind on rent but continues to occupy the premises.
Domesday Book
An 1086 land census conducted in England.
Domestic Animal
A pet; dogs, cats or other tame animals or birds and which serve some purpose for its owner or others.
Dominant Tenement
The property (i.e. tenement) or piece of land that benefits from, or has the advantage of, an easement.
Dominion Utile
Latin: the property rights of a tenant; exclusive right to use a thing
Dominium Directum
Latin: qualified ownership of a land: not having possession or use of property but retaining ownership.
Domus Sua Cuique Est Tutissimum Refugium
Latin: Every man's house is his refuge.
Duplex
A house which has separate but complete facilities to accommodate two families as either adjacent units or one on top of the other.
Dwelling
A place to live in.
Easement
A legal right to the access over or use of another's land or waterway.
Ejectment
A ancient now disused claim to remove an individual from occupying another's real property, based on trespass.
Eminent Domain
USA: The legal power to expropriate private land for the sake of public necessity.
Emphyteusis
Civil law: a long-term lease of land or buildings; 99 years or such similar long term, or even in perpetuity.
Escheat
Where property is surrendered to the government upon the death of the owner, because there is nobody to inherit the property.
Estover
Limited rights granted to a tenant of land to certain product of the land, mostly wood.
Eviction
Some permanent act by landlord, or by person or thing under his control, which deprives a tenant of enjoyment of the rented premises.
Expropriation
The forced purchase of land by a public authority from a private owner.
Extinguishment
The termination of legal rights.
Fair Market Value
The hypothetical most probable price that could be obtained for a property by average, informed purchasers.
Fee Simple
Absolute ownership in jurisdictions which preserve traditional common law as the legal basis of land ownership..
Feudal System
A social and land-use debtor system in use in Europe during the Middle Ages.
Five-Hide
A unit of measure of land used in Conquest-era (1066) England.
Fixtures
A chattel which has become real property by having been affixed thereto.
Flood Waters
Waters which escape from a watercourse in great volume and flow over adjoining lands in no regular channel.
Foreclosure
The sale of real property secured by a mortgage, in order to satisfy an outstanding loan.
Freehold
Use of real estate for an indeterminate time.
Gavelkind
A form of limited land ownership in England pre-Conquest (1066) which vested to all sons equally.
Guarantor
A person who pledges payment or performance of a contract of another, but separately, as part of an independently contract with the obligee of the original contract.
Heriot
A right in ancient common law of a land lord, upon the death of his tenant, to pick any beast belonging to the estate of the deceased tenant.
Heritage
Scot law: real property.
Hypothec
A charge on property upon which an unpaid creditor may enforce payment of the debt.
Immovable
Land and fixtures thereto, civil law term.
Incorporeal Hereditament
An intangible right which is attached to property and which is inheritable.
Indefeasible
A right or title in property that cannot be made void, defeated or canceled by any past event, error or omission in the title.
Indian Country
(USA) Land within an Indian reservation and all such other dependent Indian territories, and all land acquired by Indians in which tribal and federal laws normally apply and state laws do not.
Indian Title
A right of exclusive occupancy in land by Indians.
Joint Tenancy
When two or more persons are equally owners of some property.
Jus Spatiandi Et Manendi
Latin: the right to stray and remain.
Landlord
A land or building owner who has leased the land, the building or a part of the land or building, to another person.
Land Patent
A conveyance of land from the government to a private person.
Lease
A special kind of contract between a property owner and a person wanting temporary enjoyment and exclusive use of the property, in exchange for rent paid to the property owner.
Leasehold
Real property held under a lease.
Lessee
The tenant, the person to whom is granted exclusive possession of a thing under the terms of a lease.
Lessor
The landlord; a person who grants a lease, usually the owner of the thing being leased.
Lex Situs
A conflict of law rule that selects the applicable law based on the venue or location of something.
License
A special permission to do something on, or with, somebody else’s property which, were it not for the license, could be legally prevented or give rise to legal action in tort or trespass.
Lis Pendens
Latin: a dispute or matter which is the subject of ongoing or pending litigation.
Merger
The absorption of one thing or legal right into another.
Mesne Profits
Profits from land while it has been improperly held; damages for trespass.
Mortgage
An interest given on a piece of land, in writing, to guarantee the payment of a debt or the execution of some action.
Mortgagor
The person who borrows money secured by conceding a mortgage against his interest in real property.
Nuisance
Excessive or unlawful use of one’s property to the extent of unreasonable annoyance or inconvenience to a neighbor or to the public.
Occupant
A person holding, in control or inside a thing such as a motor vehicle or rented premises.
Occupation
A job, employment or the character of being physically inside or upon a place.
Occupiers' Liability
Liability of a person who controls land or building(s) in regards to damages caused to others who enter thereon.
Park
An area of land set aside for passive common use, where certain types of activities are restricted, to permit individuals to escape the intensity of urban life.
Party Wall
A partition wall; a dividing wall which separates two adjoining real properties.
Percolating Water
Water which seeps or filters through the ground without any definite channel and not part of the flow of any waterway (eg. rain water).
Personalty
Personal property.
Plat
A subdivision map prepared for approval by a governmental authority.
Premises Liability
The liability of an occupier of real property towards injury to others.
Profit à Prendre
A servitude which resembles an easement and which allows the holder to enter the land of another and to take some natural produce such as mineral deposits, fish or game, timber, crops or pasture.
Property
A comprehensive collection of legal rights over a thing.
Quia Emptores
A 1290 English statute that held that notwithstanding the subdivision (subinfeudation) of a feeholding; the new tenant owed feudal rights and obligations not to the seller but to the Land Lord.
Quick Take
A formal process of the exercise of eminent domain in which the government takes possession before the adjudication of compensation.
Quicquid Plantatur Solo, Solo Cedit
Latin: whatever is planted in the ground, belongs to the ground.
Quiet Enjoyment
A landlord's obligation to provide the tenant with reasonable privacy and freedom from any interference with the tenant's exclusive use and enjoyment of the rented premises.
Real Estate
Same as real property; land and rights attached to land.
Real Obligation
A legal obligation associated with real property.
Real Property
A property interest in land.
Reddendum
Latin: that part of a lease which sets out the amount of rent and when it is payable.
Redemption
Reverting title to property.
Rent
Money or other consideration paid by a tenant to a landlord in exchange for the exclusive use and enjoyment of land, a building or a part of a building.
Replevin
A legal action taken to reclaim goods which have been distrained.
Residential Tenancy
The lease of residential premises for residential purposes.
Restrictive Covenant
A contract in which a party agrees to be restricted in some regards as to future conduct.
Reverse Mortgage
A loan made by the homeowner on which the home stands as collateral, and which payment is not required until the homeowner sells, moves out or dies, and the loan amount and interest, is then paid out of the proceeds of sale.
Reversionary Interest
Any interest, vested or contingent, the enjoyment of which is postponed.
Right of First Refusal
A right given to a person to be the first person allowed to purchase a certain object if it is ever offered for sale.
Rooming House
Rented residential premises where an individual shares a kitchen and bathroom with others.
Security Deposit
Money paid to another to be held as security for the occurrence of a specified event.
Seisin
The legal possession of property; historically, possession under claim of freehold.
Semayne's Case
A 1604 English case that established the right of a home-owner to defend his premises against intrusion ("every man's house is his castle") yields to those seeking to enter with lawful authority such as to make an arrest.
Servient Tenement
The land which suffers or has the burden of an easement.
Servitia Debita
Latin: services rendered to pay off a debt.
Servitude
From Roman law and now a feature of civil law; equivalent to the common law's easement: access rights over, under or on the property of another.
Sic Utera Tuo Ut Alienam Non Laedas
Latin: use your property in such a fashion so as to not disturb others.
Slander of Title
Intentionally casting aspersion on someones property including real property, a business or goods (the latter might also be called slander of goods).
Spite Fence
A fence built not to any beneficial purpose but, rather, to annoy a neighbor.
Statement of Adjustments
A document that proposes financial reconciliation of a transaction to a specified date and requisite pay-outs to the parties to the transaction or to a defined third-party.
Statute of Frauds
A statute that set a minimum standard for enforceable contracts, usually requiring at a minimum something in writing or the actual exchange of reciprocal obligations, at least in part.
Straight Condemnation
A formal process for the exercise of eminent domain in which a price is adjudicated and then the property bought by the government.
Stream
A watercourse having banks and channel through which waters flow, at least periodically.
Subinfeudation
The process whereby, under the feudal system of tenure, a person receiving a grant of land from a lord, could himself become a landlord by subdividing and subletting that land to others.
Sublease
The subsequent lease of property that is itself leased; with the primary tenant retaining an interest in the original lease.
Surface Waters
Waters falling on the land by precipitation or rising from springs.
Swamp
Lands which, from excessive rainfall or other causes, retain at some seasons of the year excessive water which damages and renders them unfit for use.
Tenancy
A contract by which the owner of real property (the landlord), grants exclusive possession of that real property to another person (tenant), in exchange for the tenant's periodic payment of some sum of money (rent).
Tenancy By The Entireties
A form of common law co-ownership where, when real property was transferred to a husband and a wife, the property could not be seized or sold unless both spouses agreed or by ending the marriage.
Tenant
A person to whom a landlord grants temporary and exclusive use of land or a part of a building, usually in exchange for rent.
Tenants In Common
Share a specified proportion of ownership rights in real property and upon the death of a tenant in common, that share is transferred to the estate of the deceased tenant.
Tenement
Property that could be subject to easements.
Tenendum
Latin: to be held. In law, that part of a contract in which an interest in real property is created that sets out the extent or limitations of that interest.
Tenure
A right of holding or occupying land or a position for a certain amount of time.
Time of the Essence
A contractual term requiring performance within a specified time.
Title
The right or proof of ownership.
Torrens Land Registration System
A land registration system invented by Robert Torrens and in which the government is the keeper of the master record of all land and their owners.
Transfer
Delivery from one person to another of property.
Transferee
A person who receives property being transferred.
Transferor
The person from whom title or ownership to property moves.
Trespass
Unlawful interference with another’s person, property or rights.
Trinoda Necessitas
Latin: three ancient necessities held to be owed all landowners to the English kingdom.
Usufruct
The rights to the product of another's property.
Words of Limitation
Words in a conveyance or in a will which set the duration of an estate.

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