Maine Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

Maine Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

I. Introduction to Property Law
A. Definition and Types of Property
1. Real Property: land and anything attached to it, such as buildings.
2. Personal Property: all other types of property, including tangible and intangible items.
B. Legal vs. Equitable Title
– Legal title: the recognized ownership interest in property.
– Equitable title: a beneficial interest in property, often seen in trust arrangements.

II. Possession and Ownership
A. Acquisition of Property
1. Discovery
2. Capture
3. Creation
4. Adverse Possession
i. Maine Adverse Possession: 20-year statutory period (14 M.R.S. § 801).
ii. Requirements: actual, open, notorious, exclusive, and hostile possession.

B. Finders of Property
    1. Lost vs. Mislaid vs. Abandoned Property
        - Lost: owner unintentionally and unknowingly loses the item.
        - Mislaid: owner intentionally places it somewhere but forgets.
        - Abandoned: owner intends to relinquish all rights.
    2. Rights of Finders vs. Rights of Landowners

III. Estates in Land
A. Freehold Estates
1. Fee Simple Absolute: the most complete ownership with indefinite duration.
2. Life Estate: ownership for the duration of someone’s life.
3. Fee Tail: obsolete in Maine, inheritable only by lineal descendants.
B. Future Interests
1. Reversion, Remainder, and Executory Interests
2. Rules Against Perpetuities (Maine has adopted the Uniform Statutory Rule Against Perpetuities)

IV. Concurrent Ownership
A. Joint Tenancy
– Right of survivorship, equal shares, must have four unities (time, title, interest, possession).
B. Tenancy in Common
– No right of survivorship, can have unequal shares.
C. Tenancy by the Entirety
– Only between married couples in some states, not recognized in Maine.

V. Landlord-Tenant Law
A. Leasehold Estates
1. Tenancy for years
2. Periodic tenancy
3. Tenancy at will
4. Tenancy at sufferance
B. Duties and Rights of Landlords and Tenants
– Maine Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (Title 14, M.R.S. Chapter 709)

VI. Land Use Control
A. Nuisance
– Unreasonable interference with another’s use and enjoyment of their property.
B. Zoning and Planning
– Maine Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) regulates land use in the unorganized territories.
C. Eminent Domain
– The government’s power to take private property for public use with just compensation.

VII. Easements, Covenants, and Servitudes
A. Easements
1. Appurtenant vs. In Gross
2. Creation: express, implied, by necessity, or prescription.
B. Real Covenants and Equitable Servitudes
– Promise affecting the use of land, real covenants run with the land at law, while equitable servitudes run with the land in equity.

VIII. Transfer of Property
A. Deeds and Conveyancing
1. Warranty Deed vs. Quitclaim Deed
2. Requirements of a valid deed: grantor, grantee, consideration, legal description, granting clause, signature, delivery.
B. Recording Statutes
– Maine follows a “race-notice” recording statute (33 M.R.S. § 201).

IX. Case Law
A. Pierson v. Post (1805) – The case that established a rule for acquiring property through capture.
– Issue: Whether Post acquired the rights to the fox by pursuing it.
– Rule: The one who actually captures the animal acquires property rights.
– Analysis: Post did not have possession until the capture was complete.
– Conclusion: Pierson, having captured the fox, established possession and ownership.

B. Johnson v. M'Intosh (1823) - A foundational case regarding title to land by discovery.
    - Issue: Whether Johnson's land grant from Native Americans was valid.
    - Rule: Discovery gave title to the government, which could then grant it to individuals.
    - Analysis: Private individuals could not acquire land directly from Native Americans.
    - Conclusion: M'Intosh's title was valid, Johnson's was not.

X. Sample Maine-Specific Questions
– What are the requirements for adverse possession in Maine?
– How does Maine’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Act protect tenants?
– Explain the differences between a warranty deed and a quitclaim deed under Maine law.
– Discuss the “race-notice” recording statute in Maine and its implications for property conveyance.

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