Kansas Law School 1L Study Guide for Property
I. Introduction to Property Law
A. Definitions and Concepts
1. Real Property vs. Personal Property: Real property refers to land and things attached to it, while personal property refers to movable items or intangible rights.
2. Fixture: An item that was once personal property but has been attached to land or a building and is regarded as part of the real property.
II. Possession and Ownership
A. Acquisition of Property
1. Discovery: The acquisition of property by finding something that no one else owns.
2. Capture: Acquiring property through the physical taking or removal of wildlife or abandoned property.
3. Creation: Property rights can also be established by creating something new, whether it is a novel item or intellectual property.
4. Adverse Possession: Acquiring title to land by possessing it for a certain period under conditions defined by law. In Kansas, the statutory period for adverse possession is 15 years (K.S.A. 60-503).
B. Case Law
1. Johnson v. M’Intosh (1823): Established that private citizens could not purchase lands from Native Americans. The U.S. government held exclusive rights to extinguish the Indian title of occupancy, either by purchase or conquest.
– Issue: Whether private citizens could obtain valid land titles from Native American tribes.
– Rule: Only the federal government could purchase tribal lands.
– Analysis: The court determined that the principle of discovery gave exclusive rights to the discoverer, namely, the U.S. government.
– Conclusion: Private land purchases from Native Americans were held to be void ab initio.
III. Estates in Land
A. Freehold Estates
1. Fee Simple Absolute: The most complete form of ownership, potentially infinite in duration.
2. Life Estate: Ownership for the duration of one’s life, and upon death, the property passes to another party.
B. Non-Freehold Estates (Leasehold Estates)
1. Term of Years: A lease with a fixed duration.
2. Periodic Tenancy: A lease that continues for successive periods until terminated by notice.
3. Tenancy at Will: A lease that may be terminated at any time by either party.
4. Tenancy at Sufferance: Occurs when a tenant remains in possession of property after the termination of a lease.
IV. Concurrent Ownership
A. Joint Tenancy: Ownership by two or more persons who have equal rights in the use of that property. Upon the death of one joint tenant, the property passes to the surviving joint tenants by right of survivorship.
B. Tenancy in Common: Co-ownership without the right of survivorship; each owner has an undivided interest in the property, which can be sold or passed on to heirs.
V. Landlord-Tenant Law
A. Lease Agreements: The rights and obligations of landlords and tenants are primarily determined by the lease agreement and Kansas law (see Kansas Residential Landlord & Tenant Act).
B. Rights and Duties: Landlords must provide habitable living conditions, while tenants have an obligation to pay rent and not damage the property.
C. Security Deposits: Kansas law regulates the amount and return of security deposits (K.S.A. 58-2550).
D. Eviction: The legal process for removing a tenant from rental property, which must follow specific procedures under Kansas statutes.
VI. Land Use
A. Easements: A nonpossessory interest in land that allows the holder to use land owned by another for a specific purpose.
B. Covenants: Promises written into deeds and other instruments that bind current and future owners.
C. Zoning: Local governments divide land into zones and regulate land use within those zones.
VII. Transferring Property
A. Deeds: Written document by which real property is transferred from one party to another.
1. General Warranty Deed: Guarantees the grantee against any and all prior claims to the property.
2. Special Warranty Deed: Guarantees against claims that arose during the time the grantor owned the property.
3. Quitclaim Deed: Transfers any interest the grantor has in the property, without any warranty.
B. Recording Statutes: Kansas follows a race-notice statute, which means the first to record a deed after receiving it in good faith and without notice of other claims will generally have superior rights (K.S.A. 58-2223).
VIII. Case Law Examples
A. Pierson v. Post (1805): Established the rule of capture for wild animals.
– Issue: Whether a pursuer of a wild animal acquires property rights by mere pursuit.
– Rule: Property rights in a wild animal are acquired by capture, not mere pursuit.
– Analysis: Post pursued a fox, but Pierson captured it. The court decided that pursuit alone did not grant Post a property right in the fox.
– Conclusion: Pierson had the right to the fox because he captured it.
When studying property law, it is crucial to understand the fundamental principles and how case law has shaped the current understanding and application of those principles. This study guide provides an overview of key concepts and cases, but students should delve into the details and nuances of property law, especially in the context of Kansas statutes and case law, to prepare effectively for their final semester exams.