Texas Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

I. Real Property:
Real property refers to land, buildings or houses and things permanently attached to the land such as trees or water, and the interests, benefits, and rights inherent in real estate ownership.

Case: Johnson v. M’Intosh (1823)
This case establishes that discovery doctrine gave European powers the right to take Indian lands.

Issue: Who owned the land, the private purchasers or the federal government?
Rule: The court held that the federal government owned the land and had the right to decide who could purchase it.
Application: U.S. courts will not recognize land titles obtained from Native Americans without federal government approval.
Conclusion: The federal government had the ultimate dominion over the territories within its borders.

II. Personal Property:
Personal property is everything else that isn’t real property, like cars, furniture, and jewelry.

Case: Armory v Delamirie (1722)
This case deals with the law of finders and the right to possession.

Issue: Can a finder have superior claim over everyone else except the true owner?
Rule: A finder has a right superior to everyone except the true owner.
Application: The chimney sweeper boy found the jewel and thus had a superior claim over the jeweler.
Conclusion: The finder of a lost item has better claim to it against the entire world except the true owner.

III. Leasehold Estates
Leasehold estate is a property tenure with a beginning and an end, either fixed or periodic.

Case: Ernst v. Conditt (1968)
This case explores the difference between a lease and a license.

Issue: Was the agreement a lease or a license?
Rule: A lease gives exclusive possession of the premises against all the world, including the owner, while a license merely makes an act lawful, which without it would be unlawful.
Application: The agreement was held to be a license, not a lease, because the agreement did not give Ernst exclusive possession of the premises.
Conclusion: The agreement did not create a landlord-tenant relationship but a licensor-licensee relationship.

IV. Adverse Possession
Adverse possession is a legal doctrine under which a person in possession of land owned by someone else may acquire valid title to it.

Case: Howard W. Heck & Associates, Inc. v. Bouchard (1984)
This case explores the concept of adverse possession in Texas.

Issue: Can a party claim adverse possession when they have acknowledged the true owner’s title?
Rule: For a claim of adverse possession to succeed in Texas, a claimant must prove (1) actual, (2) visible, (3) continuous, (4) notorious, (5) distinct, (6) hostile (7) possession, under a claim of right, for the relevant statutory period.
Application: As the claimant had acknowledged the true owner’s title, the claim of adverse possession failed.
Conclusion: Adverse possession claim failed as the claimant had recognized the true owner’s title.

V. Easements
Easements refer to the right to use another person’s land for a specific purpose.

Case: Holbrook v. Taylor (1976)
This case explores the creation of easements by necessity and by implication.

Issue: Is there an easement by necessity?
Rule: An easement by necessity arises when it is strictly necessary for the use and enjoyment of land, and the necessity existed at the time of the severance of the estate.
Application: The court found that the easement was necessary for the use and enjoyment of the Holbrook’s property and that the necessity existed at the time of the severance of the estate.
Conclusion: An easement by necessity existed.

VI. Covenants
Real covenants are promises that landowners make about the use of their property.

Case: Tulk v. Moxhay (1848)
This case dealt with covenants that “run with the land”.

Issue: Can the covenant be enforced against a subsequent purchaser who purchased with notice of the covenant?
Rule: If a subsequent purchaser acquires property with notice of a covenant, the covenant can be enforced against them.
Application: The court held that since Moxhay had purchased the land with notice of the covenant, he was bound by it.
Conclusion: The covenant was binding on the subsequent purchaser.

VII. Zoning
Zoning refers to municipal laws establishing building codes and usage regulations for properties in a specific area.

Case: Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co. (1926)
This case upheld the constitutionality of zoning regulations.

Issue: Are zoning ordinances constitutional?
Rule: Zoning ordinances are constitutional if they are substantially related to the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare.
Application: The court found that the zoning ordinance in question was substantially related to the public welfare.
Conclusion: The zoning ordinance was constitutional.

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