Michigan Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

Michigan Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

I. Introduction to Property Rights

  • Concept of Property: Understanding the concept of property involves recognizing the rights that individuals or entities have with respect to things. This includes the right to transfer property, the right to exclude others, the right to use, and the right to destroy.

  • Types of Property: Differentiate between real property (land and everything attached to it) and personal property (all other kinds of property).

II. Possession and Ownership

  • Acquisition by Capture: Analyze the rule of capture as demonstrated in Pierson v. Post (1805), where the court held that mere pursuit of an animal does not grant one rights to it; the animal must be captured or killed.

  • Finders Keepers: Understand the principles in cases like Armory v. Delamirie (1722), where a chimney sweep’s boy found a jewel and was entitled to it against all but the rightful owner.

III. Adverse Possession

  • Elements of Adverse Possession: Possession must be actual, open and notorious, exclusive, adverse (or hostile), and continuous for a statutory period.

  • Michigan Specifics: In Michigan, the statutory period for adverse possession is 15 years (Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5801).

  • Doctrine of Tacking: The period of possession by a prior possessor can be added to the current possessor’s time to fulfill the statutory period.

IV. Concurrent Ownership

  • Types of Concurrent Interests: Joint tenancies, tenancies in common, and tenancies by the entirety (which is recognized in Michigan for spouses).

  • Rights and Duties of Co-Owners: Co-owners owe each other duties regarding the property, and disputes can lead to actions for partition.

V. Land Transactions

  • Statute of Frauds: Requires certain contracts, including those for the sale of land, to be in writing to be enforceable.

  • Michigan Marketable Title Act: Provides rules for determining when a title is marketable; this is important in the sale of land.

  • Duty to Disclose: Sellers may have a duty to disclose certain defects or conditions related to the property.

VI. Land Use

  • Easements: A nonpossessory interest in the land of another that entitles the owner of the interest to a limited use or enjoyment of the land.

  • Covenants: Promises written into deeds and other instruments regarding land use.

  • Nuisance Law: Michigan nuisance law distinguishes between public and private nuisances and involves the unreasonable, unwarranted, or unlawful use of one’s property.

VII. Landlord-Tenant Law

  • Leasehold Estates: The types of tenancies—tenancy for years, periodic tenancy, tenancy at will, and tenancy at sufferance.

  • Michigan Landlord-Tenant Relationships Act: Governs the relationship between landlords and tenants in Michigan, including security deposit regulations and eviction procedures.

  • Implied Warranty of Habitability: In Michigan, landlords must maintain rental properties in a condition fit for the use intended by the parties.

VIII. Future Interests

  • Present and Future Estates: Understanding fee simple absolute, life estates, contingent remainders, executory interests, and vested remainders.

  • Rule Against Perpetuities: Michigan follows the common law Rule Against Perpetuities, which states that no interest is good unless it must vest, if at all, not later than 21 years after some life in being at the creation of the interest.

IX. Takings and Eminent Domain

  • Public Use and Just Compensation: The Fifth Amendment, applicable to the states through the 14th Amendment, requires that property cannot be taken for public use without just compensation.

  • Michigan’s Approach: The Michigan Constitution also provides for just compensation and specifies that private property shall not be taken for public use without the necessity of such taking being first determined and just compensation being first made or secured.

X. Review of Key Cases

When reviewing cases, use the IRAC (Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion) format. Here are two examples:

  • Pierson v. Post (Issue: Whether Post had acquired ownership of a fox by mere pursuit. Rule: A wild animal must be captured or killed to establish ownership. Application: Post had not captured the fox, so he had not acquired ownership. Conclusion: Pierson, who captured the fox, was entitled to it.)

  • Armory v. Delamirie (Issue: Whether the finder of a jewel, a chimney sweep’s boy, had rights to it against everyone except the true owner. Rule: The finder of a lost item has rights to it against all but the rightful owner. Application: The chimney sweep’s boy found the jewel and thus had a superior claim to it over Delamirie, who was not the owner. Conclusion: The chimney sweep’s boy was awarded damages.)

XI. Conclusion

This Study Guide outlines the key concepts and legal principles relevant to a Property course at Michigan Law School. For the final exam, students should be prepared to analyze hypothetical scenarios using the concepts discussed, apply case law appropriately, and be familiar with Michigan-specific statutes and their applications. It is also critical to stay updated with any changes in the law that may not be covered in this guide.

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