New York Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

New York Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

I. Introduction to Property Law

A. Definition and Importance
    - Property law governs the various forms of ownership and tenancy in real and personal property.

B. Types of Property
    - Real Property: Land and attachments (buildings, trees, etc.).
    - Personal Property: Movable objects and intangible rights.

C. Legal vs. Equitable Title
    - Legal title: The formal ownership of property.
    - Equitable title: The beneficial interest in the property.

II. Possession and Ownership

A. Acquisition of Property
    1. Discovery, Capture, and Finders
    2. Adverse Possession
        - Concept: Adverse possession allows a trespasser to gain legal title to land if certain conditions are met.
        - Elements: Actual possession, Open and notorious, Exclusive, Hostile, and Continuous for the statutory period.

B. Case Law
    - Van Valkenburgh v. Lutz (1952): Demonstrated the necessity of meeting all adverse possession elements in NY.

III. Estates in Land

A. Freehold Estates
    1. Fee Simple Absolute
        - The most extensive interest in land, potentially infinite duration.
    2. Life Estates
        - The right to use property for the duration of someone's life.
    3. Fee Tail
        - A now largely obsolete form, where property is restricted to the owner's heirs.

B. Leasehold Estates
    1. Tenancy for Years
    2. Periodic Tenancy
    3. Tenancy at Will
    4. Tenancy at Sufferance

C. Future Interests
    - Remainders, executory interests, and reversion interests.

IV. Concurrent Ownership

A. Joint Tenancy
    - Right of survivorship, equal interest, time, title, and possession.
B. Tenancy in Common
    - No right of survivorship, can have unequal shares.
C. Tenancy by the Entirety
    - Available only to married couples in NY, with the right of survivorship.

V. Landlord-Tenant Law

A. Lease Agreements
    - Must specify terms, rent, duration, and obligations.
B. Tenant's Rights
    - Right to habitable premises, quiet enjoyment.
C. Landlord's Rights
    - Right to receive rent, right to reclaim property after lease ends.
D. Evictions
    - Legal process required to remove a tenant.

VI. Land Use

A. Zoning
    - Municipalities regulate land use through zoning ordinance.
B. Eminent Domain
    - The government's power to take private property for public use with just compensation.

VII. Easements, Covenants, and Servitudes

A. Easements
    - Right to use another's land for a specific purpose.
B. Covenants
    - Written agreements or restrictions on land use.
C. Servitudes
    - Burdens or benefits attached to land ownership.

D. Case Law
    - Willard v. First Church of Christ, Scientist, Pacifica (2008): Addresses the creation and enforcement of easements in NY.

VIII. Real Property Sales and Transfers

A. Contracts
    - Statute of Frauds requires real estate contracts to be in writing.
B. Deeds
    - Warranty Deed, Special Warranty Deed, Quitclaim Deed.
C. Title Assurance
    - Title insurance, abstract of title, opinion of title.

IX. Mortgages and Financing

A. Types of Mortgages
    - Traditional, Adjustable Rate, Balloon payments.
B. Foreclosure
    - Judicial and non-judicial processes by which lenders can recover the loan.

X. New York Specific Laws and Cases

A. RPAPL Article 15 (Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law)
    - Adverse possession in New York.
B. Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019
    - Significant changes to landlord-tenant law in New York.

C. Case Law
    - Lavanant v. General Acc. Ins. Co. (1994): The NY court clarified the distinction between a joint tenancy and a tenancy in common.
    - Riverside Syndicate, Inc. v. Munroe (2009): Addressed rent stabilization laws in New York.

This study guide is intended as an overview of the fundamental concepts of property law as they pertain to a 1L course, with a focus on New York-specific statutes and case law. Students should explore these topics further through their course materials, casebooks, and supplemental readings to ensure a thorough understanding in preparation for their final semester exam.

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