Articles Tagged with property law

underwood-tenant-coowner-squatter-300x300There are many relationships a person can have with real property. The main relationships where a person has some sort of claim to real property are those of a tenant, a co-owner, and a squatter. 

Each of these terms mean something different under California law. As a result, one’s relationship to the real property will affect one’s rights to that property, and what one can do with that property. 

What is a “Tenant”?

underwood-what-is-ouster-300x300What is an Ouster (Civ. Code § 843)?

An ouster occurs when one tenant wrongful dispossesses or excludes another cotenant or cotenants from the common property. (Zaslow v. Kroenert (1946) 29 Cal.2d 541, 548.) Regardless of whether individuals share property as joint tenants or tenants in common, the property rights of cotenants are usually the same regarding possession. (12 Witkin, Summary 11th Real Prop § 41 (2023).) Each cotenant is entitled to share possession of the entire property and cannot be excluded from any part of the property by the other cotenant. (Id.) 

What Does an Ouster Require?

underwood-responsible-injuries-joint-property-300x300Generally, every owner of property is liable for injuries on their property when it is not in a reasonably safe condition. (Cody F. v. Falletti (2001) 92 Cal.App.4th 1232.) If a party was a coowner and jointly in possession of the premises, they would be equally responsible for the condition of the premises and equally liable for injury. (Mayo v. White (1986) 178 Cal.App.3d 1083. 

Civil Code section 1714 states that everyone is responsible for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person, except so far as the latter has, willfully or by want of ordinary care, brought the injury upon himself or herself.

Even if someone has a small interest in the property and they exercise no control over the management of the property, they still will be liable. (Davert v. Larson (1985) 163 Cal.App.3d 407.) This is because the courts believe relieving individual owners in common of liability would eliminate any motivation of any party to exercise due care in the management and control of commonly owned property. (Id.) Therefore, owners may then be found to be “jointly and severally liable” for a person’s injury. 

Underwood-Blog-Images-1-1-300x300Sir William Blackstone is a titan in the field of legal jurisprudence. His 1765 work, Commentaries on the Laws of England, is his most famous legal treatise, forming the backbone of common law analysis as modern lawyers understand it today. Without his efforts centuries ago, our conceptions of property, individual rights, and governmental authority would not be the same. His works remain cited even now in judicial decisions at all levels, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

Blackstone’s comments on property law are particularly striking, for they bear the foundational ideas now found in our statutes governing real estate transactions, estate types, property rights, and ownership disputes. And while his analyses on tenancies in common and joint tenancy still bear striking resemblances to our own California statutes, his discussions of partitions show their age.

What is the common law, and why is it important today?

Landscape image of a wide land in the field
The purpose of this article is to address the goals that California’s Surplus Land Act was designed to accomplish.

The article will address the prior version of the Surplus Land Act, the changes to definitions made in 2019, and provide a big-picture perspective on its aims.

In 2019, the California Legislature re-made the Surplus Land Act in significant ways. Just three of those ways are addressed here.

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