Connecticut Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

Connecticut Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

Property law encompasses a wide array of legal issues involving real and personal property. In Connecticut, like other jurisdictions in the United States, property law is governed by a mix of common law principles and state statutes.

I. Introduction to Property Rights

  • Concept of Property: The legal rights that allow individuals to possess, use, and enjoy certain resources. Property can be classified as either real property (land and fixtures) or personal property (movable items and intangible rights).

  • Possession: The control over a resource that the law will protect against interference from others. Acquisition of property can be by discovery, capture, creation, adverse possession, gift, or purchase.

  • Ownership: The collection of rights that allows an individual to use, enjoy, and dispose of property as they see fit.

II. Estates in Land

  • Fee Simple Absolute: The most extensive estate in land, providing the holder with full possessory rights and powers of disposition. Fee simple absolute is potentially infinite in duration.

  • Life Estate: An estate in land that lasts for the life of the grantee. Upon the grantee’s death, the property either reverts to the grantor or passes to another designated individual (remainderman).

  • Leasehold Estates: An estate in land that lasts for a defined term. Leasehold estates include the tenancy for years, periodic tenancy, tenancy at will, and tenancy at sufferance.

III. Concurrent Ownership

  • Tenancy in Common: A form of concurrent ownership where each owner has an undivided interest in the property. Upon death, an owner’s interest passes to their heirs.

  • Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship: Each joint tenant owns an equal share, and upon the death of a joint tenant, the interest automatically passes to the surviving joint tenants.

  • Tenancy by the Entirety: Similar to joint tenancy but available only to married couples. It provides survivorship rights and protects the property from creditors of one spouse.

IV. Landlord-Tenant Law

  • Leases and Tenancy Agreements: Governed by both common law and statutes, including the Connecticut Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.

  • Duties of Landlords and Tenants: Landlords must provide habitable living conditions; tenants must pay rent and avoid waste.

  • Eviction Process: Connecticut law outlines specific procedures for eviction, including notice requirements and court procedures.

V. Transfer of Property

  • Deeds: The primary vehicle for transferring interest in real property. There are different types of deeds (warranty, special warranty, and quitclaim), each providing varying levels of protection.

  • Recording Statutes: Connecticut has a race-notice recording statute. A subsequent purchaser who records their interest first and has no notice of prior unrecorded interests will have priority.

VI. Land Use

  • Zoning: Connecticut municipalities have the authority to enact zoning ordinances under the Connecticut Zoning Enabling Act. Zoning regulates land uses in different areas.

  • Eminent Domain: The government’s power to take private land for public use with just compensation, as guided by the Connecticut Constitution and statutes.

VII. Real Property and Contract Law

  • Statute of Frauds: Connecticut’s Statute of Frauds requires that transfers of an interest in land be in writing and signed by the party to be charged.

  • Equitable Conversion: Once a contract for the sale of land is signed, equity regards the buyer as the owner of the land subject to the contract.

VIII. Servitudes

  • Easements: A nonpossessory interest in land that allows the holder to use land possessed by another. Easements can be affirmative or negative and may be created in several ways, including express grant, implication, necessity, or prescription.

  • Covenants: Promises written into deeds and other instruments regarding the use of land. Real covenants run with the land and bind subsequent owners.

  • Equitable Servitudes: A covenant that, irrespective of whether it runs with the land, equity will enforce against the successors in interest if they have notice.

IX. Nuisance

  • Private Nuisance: A substantial and unreasonable interference with the private use and enjoyment of land.

  • Public Nuisance: An act that unreasonably interferes with the health, safety, or property rights of the community.

X. Key Cases and Application (IRAC Examples)

  • Pierson v. Post (1805): A foundational case on property rights and the acquisition of property through occupancy.
    • Issue: Whether Post had acquired property rights in the fox by pursuing it.

    • Rule: To acquire property rights in a wild animal, one must capture or mortally wound the animal.

    • Analysis: Post did not capture or mortally wound the fox, and therefore had no property rights in it.

    • Conclusion: Pierson, who captured the fox, acquired property rights in it.

  • Armory v. Delamirie (1722): A case on finder’s rights in personal property.

    • Issue: Whether the finder of a jewel (Armory) had rights superior to everyone except the true owner.

    • Rule: A finder of lost property has rights to the property against all but the rightful owner.

    • Analysis: Armory, who found the jewel, had possession and thus had rights against Delamirie, who was not the owner.

    • Conclusion: Armory entitled to the value of the jewel as Delamirie could not prove superior ownership.

This study guide provides a broad overview of property law principles, specific to Connecticut where applicable. It is important to review statutes, case law, and secondary sources for in-depth study and understanding of Connecticut property law when preparing for exams.

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