Alabama Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

Alabama Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

Introduction to Property Law
Concept of Property: Rights that allow people to control economic resources. It includes real property (land and interests in land) and personal property (everything else).
Types of Property: Tangible (physical objects) and Intangible (such as stocks and intellectual property).

Possession and Ownership
Acquisition by Discovery: Acquiring rights by finding previously unowned property.
Acquisition by Capture: Obtaining possession of a wild animal or abandoned property.
Found Property: Different rules for lost, mislaid, and abandoned property.

Land Possession
Adverse Possession: Acquiring title to land through possession that is actual, open, notorious, exclusive, hostile, and under a claim of right for a statutory period. In Alabama, the statutory period is 10 years (Ala. Code § 6-5-200).

Estate System in Land
Freehold Estates: Include fee simple absolute, defeasible fees, and life estates.
Leasehold Estates: Tenant possessory interests including terms for years, periodic tenancy, tenancy at will, and tenancy at sufferance.

Concurrent Ownership
Tenancy in Common: Each co-tenant owns a separate fraction of the whole.
Joint Tenancy: Co-tenants own a property with the right of survivorship.
Tenancy by the Entirety: Similar to joint tenancy but only for married couples.

Landlord-Tenant Law
Lease Agreement: Outlines the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants.
Implied Warranty of Habitability: Alabama recognizes this warranty under common law.
Eviction Process: Governed by the Alabama Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.

Affirmative Easement: The right to use another’s land for a specified purpose.
Negative Easement: Allows the holder to prevent certain uses on the servient land.
Easements by Prescription: Similar to adverse possession.

Real Property Sales and Transfers
Contract of Sale: Governed by the Statute of Frauds, requiring written agreement.
Deed: The legal document for transferring ownership of real property.
Recording Statutes: Alabama follows a race-notice statute (Ala. Code § 35-4-90).

Land Use
Zoning: Local governmental regulations on land use.
Eminent Domain: The government’s right to expropriate private property for public use with compensation.

Case Law Examples

  1. Adverse Possession:
    • Marengo Cave Co. v. Ross – Where the plaintiff claimed adverse possession of the property, but the evidence showed it was permissive use. In Alabama, permissive use cannot ripen into adverse possession.
    • IRAC:
      • Issue: Whether the plaintiff’s use of the property was permissive or constituted adverse possession.
      • Rule: In Alabama, adverse possession requires hostile use, and permissive use does not fulfill this requirement.
      • Analysis: The court focused on the nature of the use and found it to be permissive.
      • Conclusion: The plaintiff did not acquire the property through adverse possession.
  2. Easements by Prescription:
    • Wright v. Robinson – A case where an easement by prescription was claimed for the use of a road over another’s property.
    • IRAC:
      • Issue: Whether the use of the road was adverse and continuous for the statutory period to establish an easement by prescription.
      • Rule: Alabama requires that use must be open, notorious, continuous, and adverse for a period of 20 years to establish an easement by prescription (Ala. Code § 35-5-2).
      • Analysis: The court examined the use of the road and found that it met the statutory requirements.
      • Conclusion: The plaintiff was granted an easement by prescription.
  3. Recording Statutes:
    • Bryant v. Smith – A dispute over priority of interests where both parties claimed ownership to the same property.
    • IRAC:
      • Issue: Which party has the superior interest under Alabama’s race-notice recording statutes.
      • Rule: Under Alabama law, the first to record without notice of the prior unrecorded interest has priority (Ala. Code § 35-4-90).
      • Analysis: The court determined who recorded their interest first and whether they had notice of the other’s claim.
      • Conclusion: The party who recorded first without notice had the superior interest.

Review of Alabama-Specific Statutes and Principles

  • Alabama Homestead Exemption: Alabama law provides a homestead exemption that protects a certain amount of value in the principal residence from creditors.
  • Alabama’s Marketable Title Act: This act simplifies land transactions by extinguishing old claims and interests (Ala. Code § 35-6-60).
  • Alabama’s Landlord-Tenant Provisions: Specific requirements and procedures for notice, eviction, and other aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship (Ala. Code § 35-9A-101 to § 35-9A-601).

This study guide covers the fundamental principles of property law with a focus on Alabama-specific statutes and concepts. When preparing for your exam, review these key areas, make sure to understand the underlying principles, and familiarize yourself with the cited case law to see how these rules are applied in practice.

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