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Divisions of Ownership

About Spatial Divisions of Ownership

All Western legal systems require property owners to divide the land along spatial lines. Of example, these divisions may be unwise if the resulting piece of land does not have access to a public right of way. In land, the division may be prevented by public regulation.

When the desired division is vertical rather than horizontal a somewhat different set of problems arises. By and large, Anglo-American law permits such vertical divisions, so that one person may own the underlying mineral strata, another the surface of the land, and the third the rights to air. Both structures also made it possible to own an apartment in the 30th floor of a building, for example, through modern legislation.

Condominium ownership is more complex, as the condominium owner not only controls the property within the four walls of his apartment or house but also access rights and privileges for using common areas and utilities. In making each of the cooperators own a stake in a company, cooperative ownership prevents this complication. In exchange, the company requires the co-workers to own their residential units while maintaining the rights to all the land.

About Temporal Divisions of Ownership

Anglo-American law is known for the number and complexity of temporary ownership divisions it permits. In 1925, when it became impossible to have legal ownership divided temporarily other than between landlord and tenant, English law on the subject was considerably simplified. Nevertheless, English law continues to permit complicated temporal divisions of beneficial interests in trusts, thereby allowing for a temporary division of equal but not legal ownership. Temporal division of legal ownership of land is still possible in many of the remaining Anglo-American jurisdictions, though generally conducted by way of trust.

What is Life estate and Remainder?

One of the potential temporal divisions of property has already been considered in Anglo-American law, the life estate and the remainder in charge. In such an arrangement the tenant of life shall have the right to possess the land for his natural life. He can use the property but his capital value (committing waste) may not be impaired. He may convey his interest but he may convey no more than what he has, a life-limited interest. Hence, its conveyee receives a conveyor’s life-limited estate (estate pur autre vie). Forms of life estates are common-law dower and curtesy.

What is Contingent interest?

In Anglo-American law, it is not only possible to create successive land interests, and it is also possible to make interests subject to express contingencies. Therefore, the donor may render the remainder in George dependent on George’s having reached a specific age, say 21, at the time of the previous life tenant’s death, in the example given above.

It is not only possible to subject future interests to contingencies, but it is also possible to make present interest in payments subject to contingencies in most Anglo-American jurisdictions. For example, it is possible to offer a fee interest subject to the possibility that the land will be used for school purposes and to provide for a forfeiture of interest if it is not used as such (fee simple determinable, fee simple subject to a subsequent condition).

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