North Dakota Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

North Dakota Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

I. Introduction to Property Law
A. Definition and Function of Property
– Property refers to the legal rights and interests that individuals can possess with respect to objects, land, and resources.
– Property law governs the acquisition, use, transfer, and exclusion of these rights and interests.
B. Categories of Property
– Real property: land and interests in land, including subsurface and airspace rights.
– Personal property: tangible objects that are not land (chattels), and intangible rights such as intellectual property.

II. Possession and Ownership
A. Possession as the Basis of Property
– Possession is the actual holding or occupation of property, coupled with the intent to exclude others.
B. Establishing Ownership Through Possession
– Acquisition of property by discovery, capture, creation, accession, and confusion are recognized methods.
C. Finder’s Rights
– Generally, the finder of lost property has rights superior to all others except the true owner.
– Case: Armory v. Delamirie (1722) – A chimney sweep found a jewel and took it to a goldsmith for valuation. The goldsmith’s apprentice removed the stones. The sweep was entitled to damages from the goldsmith, as the finder had rights over everyone but the true owner.

III. Estates in Land
A. Freehold Estates
– Fee Simple Absolute: The most complete form of ownership, potentially infinite in duration.
– Life Estate: Ownership for the duration of someone’s life.
– North Dakota specifics: North Dakota Century Code (NDCC) § 47-02 outlines various estates in land relevant to state law.
B. Non-Freehold (Leasehold) Estates
– Fixed-term tenancy, periodic tenancy, tenancy at will, and tenancy at sufferance.

IV. Concurrent Ownership
A. Joint Tenancy
– Ownership by two or more persons with the right of survivorship.
– North Dakota specifics: NDCC § 47-02-26.1 addresses joint tenancy and requires specific language to create this estate.
B. Tenancy in Common
– Ownership by two or more persons without the right of survivorship.

V. Transfers of Property
A. Inter Vivos Transfers
– Gifts and sales during the owner’s lifetime.
– Requirements for a valid gift: intent, delivery, and acceptance.
B. Testamentary Transfers
– Transfers that take place upon the owner’s death through a will or intestacy.
– North Dakota specifics: NDCC § 30.1 (Uniform Probate Code) governs testamentary transfers.

VI. Landlord-Tenant Law
A. Lease Agreements
– A contract that creates a landlord-tenant relationship and sets out terms for tenancy.
– North Dakota specifics: NDCC § 47-16 details lease agreements and the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants.
B. Tenant’s Rights and Duties
– Rights include habitability, quiet enjoyment, and nondiscrimination.
– Duties include rent payment and care of the rental property.

VII. Land Use and Zoning
A. Zoning Laws
– Regulations that control how land can be used within different areas or zones.
– North Dakota specifics: North Dakota Century Code Title 40 (Municipal Government) addresses zoning regulations.
B. Eminent Domain
– The power of the government to take private property for public use with just compensation.
– Case: Kelo v. City of New London (2005) – The Court upheld the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another to further economic development.

VIII. Real Property Transactions
A. Sales of Real Estate
– Requirements of a valid transfer: writing (Statute of Frauds), description of the land, consideration, and delivery.
– North Dakota specifics: NDCC § 47-10-01 requires that conveyances of real estate be by deed.
B. Marketable Title
– A title free from significant defects that can be readily sold or mortgaged.

IX. Real Estate Financing
A. Mortgages
– A security interest in real property given to a lender as collateral for a loan.
B. Foreclosure
– The legal process by which a lender can sell mortgaged property if the borrower fails to repay the loan.
– North Dakota specifics: NDCC §§ 32-19 and 35-03 govern foreclosure processes in the state.

X. Easements and Servitudes
A. Easements
– Nonpossessory rights to use the land of another for a specific purpose.
B. Types of Easements
– Appurtenant (benefits neighboring land) and in gross (personal to the holder).
C. Creation and Termination
– Easements can be created by express grant, implication, necessity, or prescription.

XI. Public Controls and Takings
A. Police Power
– The inherent power of the state to regulate property use for the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
B. Takings Clause
– Fifth Amendment protection against the government taking private property without just compensation.
– Case: Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council (1992) – A taking occurred when a regulation deprived a property owner of all economically beneficial uses of their land.

Reviewing these concepts, cases, and laws and understanding their applications in the context of North Dakota law will provide a solid foundation for a 1L Property Law final exam. It’s essential to analyze cases using the IRAC method (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion) and to engage with the specific statutes and codes that govern property law in North Dakota.

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