Real Estate also called immovable property includes the ownership and possession of land along with anything permanently affixed to that land such as buildings, garages, improvements and buildings. Substances that are beneath the land (such as gas, oil, minerals) are also considered permanently attached. However, other items, which can be attached to the land, but are not permanent, such as mobile homes and tool sheds, are not considered to be real property. Real estate is often considered synonymous with real property as opposed to personal property, which includes all other property and is also called realty.
Real estate is one of the oldest areas of law and contains many archaic terms and concepts. Many consumers find the unfamiliar terms used in the real estate game trifling confusing when they enter the realty market. However, today we find that many of the rights and responsibilities regarding real estate have evolved and been updated as society has changed.
Owning real property – The real estate law says that when you own property, you have the right to do whatever you want with the land, except what is restricted by the real estate law. You have the right to use the land, rent or lease it, sell or transfer it, use it as collateral for a loan, bequeath it to a beneficiary or even just gift it away. You could also let it sit idle but in some cases, this may infringe on laws imposed by the state.
There exist some restrictions imposed by real estate law on owning real property. Although, on one hand, it is said that one can do whatever one wants if he owns the property, there are some restrictions imposed by the government – federal, state, country and local law enforcement agencies. Violation of the real estate law can result in hefty fines, penalties, injunctions and in some cases even criminal prosecution. The three most common restrictions are:
Zoning- Zoning laws restrict the use of the property with regards to residential, industrial, agricultural or commercial purposes. The size and height of improvements attached to the property are also subject to restriction.
Environmental Hazards- This informs you of what materials can be stored on the real property as well as who is responsible for removing environmental hazards from real property. These would include government-regulated materials such as asbestos, lead paint, petro-chemicals, radon and toxic wastes.
Public Easement and Right of Way- Some portion of the real property will 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 as well as to enable electric/gas/telephone/sewer lines to be installed.
Besides the above-mentioned restrictions, there are also some non-governmental restrictions like those of private parties that may be imposed on the use of your real estate property. For instance a real estate developer will have to decide on lot sizes, architectural design and vehicle parking subject to conditions put up in the purchase contract. The results for violation of private party agreements include an award of damages against the violator and injunctive relief.
In addition to the rights that you attain by owning real estate property, there are also several responsibilities and potential liabilities to others which result through ownership of real property.
You may own property subject to a mortgage. However, if you fail to pay the mortgage, the lender will take the property back
A lien for payment of a debt can be placed against your property.
If someone is injured on your property, you may be held liable to the injured person for all damages resulting from your negligence.