Alaska Law School 1L Study Guide for Property
Introduction to Property Law:
– Property law governs the various forms of ownership and tenancy in personal and real property. In the United States, it is a matter of state law, so it is important to understand the specific nuances of Alaska property law.
I. Possession and Ownership
A. Acquisition of Property
– Finders Law: Determines who has rights to property that is found. In Alaska, the finder of lost property has a claim to the property against all but the true owner (Armory v. Delamirie).
– Adverse Possession: The process by which one acquires title to property by occupying it without permission and meeting certain legal requirements. In Alaska, the period of occupation is 10 years. (Alaska Stat. §09.10.030)
– Gift: Transfer of property made voluntarily and without consideration. Key elements are intent, delivery, and acceptance.
B. Types of Property
– Real property: land and anything attached to it.
– Personal property: all other types of property (tangible and intangible).
– A bailment occurs when property is delivered to someone who is not the owner, under an agreement for a particular purpose. The bailee must return the property in due course.
II. Estates in Land
A. Present Estates
– Fee Simple Absolute: Complete ownership with no limitations or conditions.
– Life Estate: Ownership for the duration of a person’s life. Upon death, the estate passes to another party.
B. Future Interests
– Reversion: The interest that remains with the grantor after granting a lesser estate.
– Remainder: The interest that passes to a third party upon the termination of a lesser estate.
C. Concurrent Estates
– Joint Tenancy: Two or more persons hold an equal right to the whole property, with the right of survivorship.
– Tenancy in Common: Two or more persons hold individual parts of the property without the right of survivorship.
III. Land Use
– Municipalities establish zoning laws to control land use. In Alaska, zoning is subject to local ordinances and comprehensive plans that guide development.
B. Eminent Domain
– The right of the government to take private property for public use, with just compensation (Kelo v. City of New London).
IV. Leasehold Estates
A. Types of Leases
– Fixed-Term Tenancy: Lease for a specified period.
– Periodic Tenancy: Lease that continues for successive periods until terminated by notice.
– Tenancy at Will: Lease that may be terminated by either party at any time.
– Tenancy at Sufferance: Occurs when a tenant remains in possession after the lease has expired.
B. Landlord-Tenant Law
– Duties and rights of landlords and tenants, including the implied warranty of habitability, the right to quiet enjoyment, and eviction procedures. Alaska specific statutes regulate security deposits, notice periods for termination, and other tenant protections (Alaska Stat. §34.03).
V. Real Property Transactions
A. Sales Contracts
– The process begins with a contract that includes essential terms: parties, description of the property, price, and any contingencies.
– The legal document that transfers property from seller to buyer. Types include warranty, quitclaim, and special warranty deeds.
– The final step in the transaction where the deed is delivered, the title is transferred, and all fees are paid.
– In Alaska, recording the deed gives constructive notice to the world of the buyer’s interest in the property (Alaska Stat. §40.17).
VI. Mortgages and Financing
– A security interest in real property to ensure repayment of a debt.
– The legal process by which a lender can sell the property to satisfy the unpaid debt.
VII. Property Rights and Easements
– A non-possessory right to use another’s property. Easements can be created by express grant, implication, necessity, or prescription.
– Promises written into deeds and other instruments agreeing to perform or not perform certain acts concerning property; can be real covenants or equitable servitudes.
VIII. Alaska Specific Considerations
A. Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA)
– A federal law that settled land claims for Alaska Natives and established Alaska Native Regional Corporations to administer those lands.
B. Unique Environmental and Natural Resource Issues
– Alaska’s vast wilderness areas require specific considerations regarding land use, conservation, and resource extraction.
C. Alaska’s Homestead Exemption
– Provides protection against unsecured creditors for a portion of the homesteader’s principal residence (Alaska Stat. §09.38.010).
This study guide is a foundational overview of property law concepts as they apply in Alaska. Students should supplement this guide with detailed readings of the relevant statutes, case law, and secondary sources. Understanding both the broad principles of property law and the specific applications in Alaska law will be critical for 1L students preparing for their final exam.