WHAT IS REAL PROPERTY?
Real property is generally defined as land and the things permanently attached to the land. Things that are permanently attached to the land, also can be referred to as improvements, include homes, garages, and buildings. Substances that are beneath the land (such as gas, oil, minerals) are also considered permanently attached. Other items which can be attached to the land, such as mobile homes and tool sheds, are not considered to be real property.
WHAT IS OWNING REAL PROPERTY ABOUT?
You have a right to do with the land as you please, subject to restrictions imposed by law. When you own land, you can do many things with it, such as:
- use it;
- rent or lease it to others;
- sell or transfer it;
- give it away;
- use it as collateral for a loan;
- bequeath it to intended beneficiaries (by will or trust upon your death);
- let it sit where it is without doing anything to it (although this could create problems due to restrictions imposed by law.)
WHAT ARE SOME TYPICAL RESTRICTIONS IMPOSED BY LAW ON OWNING REAL PROPERTY?
There is a myriad of federal, state, county and local laws which restrict what you can do with the real property that you own. Enforcement of these laws typically resides with various governmental agencies which are responsible for keeping you in compliance with these laws.
The three most common restrictions imposed by government are:
- zoning - restriction on the use of the property as to residential, industrial, agricultural, or commercial purposes are very common. The size and height of improvements attached to the property are likewise subject to restriction.
- environmental hazards - what materials can be stored on the real property as well as who is responsible for removing environmental hazards from real property (such as asbestos, lead paint, petro-chemicals, radon and toxic wastes) are government regulated.
- public easement and right of way - a portion of the real property may have to be left open for others to use. Easements and right of way are used to allow access to other property, to provide for roads and sidewalks, and to enable electric/gas/telephone/sewer lines to be installed. A broader discussion of easements appears below.
Violation of government law can result in fines, penalties, injunctions and even criminal prosecution resulting in you being sent to prison.
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