Wisconsin Law School 1L Study Guide for Property

Title: Study Guide for Property – Wisconsin Law School 1L

I. Real Property Basics
– Property law governs relationships between individuals and the things they own.
– Typically, it is divided into personal property (movable, like furniture) and real property (immovable, like land).

II. Estates in Land
– Freehold estates: Fee simple absolute, fee simple defeasible, and life estate.
– Non-freehold estates: Tenancy for years, period tenancy, tenancy at will, and tenancy at sufferance.
– Future interests: Reversion, remainder, and executory interest.

Case: White v. Brown, 1972 (Life estate pur autre vie)
The court held that the will was intended to create a fee simple absolute and not a life estate.

III. Co-ownership
– Joint tenancy, tenancy in common, tenancy by the entirety.
– Important factors: Unity of possession, interest, title, and time.

Case: Riddle v. Harmon, 1980 (Severance of joint tenancy)
The court held that an uncommunicated intent to sever a joint tenancy can be effectuated by a grant to oneself.

IV. Landlord-Tenant Law
– Leasehold estates, rent, security deposits, role of habitability.
– Wisconsin law: Wis. Stat. Ann. § 704.07(3)(a) outlines the landlord’s duty to repair.

Case: Javins v. First National Realty Corp, 1970 (Implied warranty of habitability)
The court held that a lease is not merely a contract for the use of land, but a sale of housing services.

V. Adverse Possession
– Elements: Hostile, actual, open and notorious, and continuous use for a statutory period.
– Wisconsin law: Adverse possession period is 20 years (Wis. Stat. § 893.29).

Case: Howard v. Kunto, 1970 (Tacking in adverse possession)
The court held that Kunto met the continuity requirement through “tacking” onto the previous owner’s possession.

VI. Easements
– Affirmative and negative easements, creation (express, implication, prescription, estoppel), termination.
– Wisconsin law: Prescriptive easement period is 20 years (Wis. Stat. § 893.28).

Case: Van Sandt v. Royster, 1941 (Easement by prescription)
The court held that the use of a sewer line running across a neighbor’s property can mature into an easement by prescription.

VII. Restrictive Covenants
– Creation and enforcement of covenants running with the land.
– Wisconsin law: Wis. Stat. § 236.293 addresses restrictions in the plat.

Case: Neponsit Property Owners’ Ass’n v. Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank, 1938 (Equitable servitude)
The court held that a homeowners association could enforce a covenant requiring homeowners to pay for road maintenance.

VIII. Land Use Regulation
– Zoning ordinances, variances, special use permits, redevelopment.
– Wisconsin law: Zoning principles are governed by Wis. Stat. §§ 62.23(7), 59.69, and 60.61.

Case: Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co., 1926 (Zoning)
The court upheld the constitutionality of zoning ordinances, solidifying government power to control land use.

IX. Takings Clause
– Eminent domain, regulatory takings, and just compensation.
– Wisconsin law: Eminent domain is governed by Wis. Stat. § 32.01.

Case: Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon, 1922 (Regulatory takings)
The court held that if regulation goes too far, it will be recognized as a taking.

Ensure to understand these concepts, review the cases, and understand both the majority and dissenting opinions to prepare for your final exam effectively.

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