Kentucky Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

Kentucky Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

I. Introduction to Property Law

A. Overview

Property law dictates the rights and responsibilities of owning, transferring, and using property. It includes real property (land and buildings) and personal property (movable items).

B. Key Concepts

  1. Property Rights: Include the rights to possess, use, exclude, and dispose of property.
  2. Legal and Equitable Title: Legal title refers to the formal ownership of property, while equitable title refers to the beneficial interest in the property.
  3. Fixtures: Personal property that becomes real property when attached to land or buildings.

II. Property Ownership and Possession

A. Forms of Ownership

  1. Fee Simple Absolute: The most complete form of ownership with no limitations on inheritability.
  2. Life Estate: Ownership for the duration of a person’s life, which reverts to the grantor or a third party upon the life tenant’s death.
  3. Concurrent Estates: Ownership shared by two or more persons, such as joint tenancy, tenancy in common, and tenancy by the entirety.

B. Adverse Possession

  1. Elements: Continuous, open and notorious, actual and exclusive, hostile, and under a claim of right for a statutory period.
  2. Kentucky Specifics: In Kentucky, the statutory period for adverse possession is 15 years (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 413.010).

C. Landlord-Tenant Law

  1. Leasehold Estates: Include tenancy for years, periodic tenancy, tenancy at will, and tenancy at sufferance.
  2. Duties and Rights: Include the covenant of quiet enjoyment, duty to repair, and eviction procedures.

III. Transfers of Property

A. Real Property

  1. Deeds: Include warranty, special warranty, and quitclaim deeds.
  2. Recording Statutes: Govern the priority of interests in real estate; Kentucky follows a notice statute (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 382.270).

B. Personal Property

  1. Gifts: Transfer of property without consideration, requiring intent, delivery, and acceptance.
  2. Sales: Governed by the Uniform Commercial Code, Article 2, for the sale of goods.

IV. Servitudes

A. Easements

  1. Creation: May be created by express grant, reservation, implication, necessity, or prescription.
  2. Termination: Can be terminated by release, abandonment, merger, or prescription.

B. Covenants

  1. Real Covenants: Promises concerning the use of land that are binding on successors.
  2. Equitable Servitudes: Covenants enforceable in equity, requiring a showing of intent, notice, and touch and concern the land.

V. Nuisance and Zoning

A. Private Nuisance

  1. Elements: Substantial and unreasonable interference with another’s use and enjoyment of property.

B. Public Nuisance

  1. Elements: Acts that significantly interfere with the public’s rights.

C. Zoning

  1. Kentucky Zoning: Local governments have the power to enact zoning laws under the Kentucky Revised Statutes (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 100.201-100.347).
  2. Nonconforming Use: An existing use of property that does not conform to current zoning laws but is allowed to continue because it pre-dates the zoning regulation.

VI. Eminent Domain and Regulatory Takings

  1. Eminent Domain: The government’s power to take private property for public use with just compensation.
  2. Regulatory Takings: When a regulation deprives a property owner of all or most of the value of their property.

Case Law Examples Using IRAC Format

Case: Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005)


Whether the city’s decision to take property for the purpose of economic development constitutes a permissible “public use” under the Fifth Amendment.


The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows the government to take private property for “public use” with just compensation.


The Supreme Court held that the city’s plan to take the property for economic development qualified as a permissible public use because it was intended to revitalize the local economy.


The taking of Kelo’s property by the City of New London was upheld as a valid exercise of the city’s eminent domain power under the Fifth Amendment.

Case: Loretto v. Teleprompter Manhattan CATV Corp., 458 U.S. 419 (1982)


Whether a state law that required landlords to permit cable companies to install cable facilities on their property constituted a physical taking, requiring just compensation.


A physical occupation of property is a taking requiring just compensation, even if the occupation is minor.


The Supreme Court held that the law constituted a physical taking because it allowed a cable company to occupy a portion of the property permanently.


The state law resulted in a taking for which the landlord was entitled to just compensation.

Case: Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948)


Whether the enforcement of racially restrictive covenants in property deeds by state courts violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.


State action that enforces discriminatory covenants constitutes a violation of the Equal Protection Clause.


The Supreme Court found that when state courts enforced these covenants, they were participating in state action that discriminated on the basis of race.


The enforcement of racially restrictive covenants by state courts was deemed unconstitutional.

This study guide is intended to provide a comprehensive overview of key property law concepts tailored for Kentucky law students. It includes foundational principles, ownership forms, property transfers, servitudes, nuisance, zoning, eminent domain, and key case law examples using the IRAC format to prepare for final semester exams.

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