Florida Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

Florida Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

1. Introduction to Property Rights

Summary: Understanding property rights is foundational. Property is often classified into two categories, real property (land and things attached to it) and personal property (all other movable objects).

2. Possession and Ownership

Summary: Possession is the actual holding or occupancy of property, while ownership is the legal right to possess. The concept of “first in time, first in right” is important in acquiring property through possession.

3. The Rule of Capture

Summary: The rule of capture states that the first person to capture a resource owns it. This is often applied to natural resources.
– Case: Pierson v. Post (1805)
– IRAC: Issue – Does pursuing a wild animal establish property rights? Rule – No, actual physical control or mortally wounding with intent to capture is necessary. Analysis – Post was hunting a fox; Pierson killed and captured it. Conclusion – Pierson owned the fox as he had physical control.

4. Adverse Possession

Summary: Adverse possession allows a trespasser to gain legal ownership of property by continuous possession for a statutory period.
– Florida Law: The statutory period in Florida is seven years with color of title, otherwise 20 years (Fla. Stat. § 95.16 and § 95.18).
– Case: Howard v. Kunto (1970)
– IRAC: Issue – Can non-continuous possession count for adverse possession if successors possess in a similar manner? Rule – Yes, if there is a privity of estate. Analysis – The Howards claimed Kunto’s summer home. Kunto’s and previous occupants’ seasonal use was deemed continuous. Conclusion – Kunto’s adverse possession claim succeeded.

5. Estates in Land

Summary: An estate in land refers to the degree, nature, and extent of an individual’s rights in real property.
– Fee Simple Absolute: The most complete form of ownership, potentially infinite in duration.
– Life Estate: Ownership limited to the duration of a life.
– Fee Tail: An estate which passes down directly to the grantee’s heirs.

6. Concurrent Ownership

Summary: Property can be owned by more than one person at the same time in different forms, including joint tenancy, tenancy in common, and tenancy by the entirety.
– Florida Law: Tenancy by the entirety is recognized in Florida and is available only to married couples (Fla. Stat. § 689.115).

7. Leasehold Estates

Summary: A leasehold estate is a tenant’s right to occupy real estate during the term of a lease.
– The Four Types: (1) Tenancy for Years, (2) Periodic Tenancy, (3) Tenancy at Will, (4) Tenancy at Sufferance.

8. Easements

Summary: An easement is a nonpossessory interest in the land of another that entitles the holder to a specific use or enjoyment.
– Affirmative Easements: Allow the holder to perform an act on the servient land.
– Negative Easements: Prevent the servient landowner from performing an act on their land.
– Case: Holbrook v. Taylor (1976)
– IRAC: Issue – Can an implied easement arise from prior use? Rule – Yes, especially when parties act as if the easement exists. Analysis – Holbrook used a gravel road on Taylor’s property for years. Conclusion – An implied easement was recognized due to prior use.

9. Landlord-Tenant Law

Summary: Governed by both contract law and property law, focusing on leases, tenant rights, and eviction procedures.
– Florida Law: Governed by the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (Fla. Stat. § 83.40-83.682).

10. Real Property Sales and Transfers

Summary: Sales and transfers of real property involve contracts, deeds, and recording statutes.
– Florida Law: The statute of frauds requires real estate contracts to be in writing (Fla. Stat. § 725.01).
– Marketable Title: Sellers must provide a title free from significant defects.

11. Land Use Regulation

Summary: Land use regulation includes zoning, planning, and the impact of private land use agreements, like covenants and restrictions.
– Zoning: Local governments regulate land use through zoning ordinances that separate residential, commercial, and industrial areas.
– Covenants: Private agreements that restrict land use, enforceable against successors.

12. Eminent Domain and Takings

Summary: Government may take private property for public use with just compensation.
– Case: Kelo v. City of New London (2005)
– IRAC: Issue – Can economic development be a public use under the Fifth Amendment? Rule – Yes, if it’s part of a valid economic development plan. Analysis – New London took property for economic development. Conclusion – The taking was for public use as it was part of a comprehensive redevelopment plan.

13. Water Rights

Summary: In Florida, the water law is based on the doctrine of reasonable use, which allows landowners to use adjacent water bodies reasonably without harming other landowners’ rights.
– Florida Law: The Florida Water Resources Act (Fla. Stat. § 373.016) regulates water rights.

14. Florida Homestead Law

Summary: Provides protection against forced sale by creditors, restricts alienation by devise if the owner is survived by a spouse or minor child, and offers property tax benefits.
– Florida Constitution: Article X, Section 4 provides the homestead exemption and creditor protection.

This study guide is not exhaustive, and students should supplement this guide with their class notes, readings, and statutes. It is also essential to stay current with any changes in the law that may have occurred after the knowledge cutoff date for this guide.

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