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Questions about Property Rights Laws

According to The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics by Armen A. Alchian, “A property right is the exclusive authority to determine how a resource is used, whether that resource is owned by government or by individuals.” With regard to private property rights, owners have the right to determine how the property will be used, the right to all the services rendered by the property, and the right to give away or exchange the property.

Listed below are a few questions on property rights.

My neighbor’s driveway and a section of his garage are located on my property. In light of this, he may pursue "adverse possession" rights. If he doesn’t do this, can I tear down his section of the garage or construct a fence next to the driveway on my part of the property? What are my property rights regarding this?

You would not be able to tear down his part of the garage. You could demand that he tears it down himself but you would need a court order to push this through. He could then defend his case using adverse possession. Regarding the fence, you could build one anywhere on your own property.

How can I get a developer to remove a tree that has been planted on my property without prior approval from me? He claims that the tree was included on the landscape plans for the property. But the plans were not shown to me before I bought the property.

If the landscape plans on the property show that a tree was to be planted, then it would be considered legal unless there was a misrepresentation or concealment of facts. Looking through the plans would usually be considered part of buyer counsel's due diligence. Therefore, if the tree was in the plans you cannot demand the developer remove it. You could possibly negotiate or start litigation to say that the facts were misrepresented or kept hidden from you and fight your case based on this.

In an Indian reservation, is there a limit to full enjoyment of property rights with respect to deeded land?

It is unlikely there would be any restrictions in this case unless they are explicitly mentioned in the deed or in the land use or zoning regulations that apply to the property.

I own 25% of the mineral rights on my property but an oil company says that they have the right to drill through my property. What can I do?

Property rights are different from mineral rights. You can own a right to the surface and the airspace above a piece of land. But sometimes, there is a separate right to the minerals underneath. If the company has mineral rights, they need to make sure that they put the surface of the property back exactly how it used to be.

I share joint tenancy rights with my former partner. Three years ago we decided to separate but my partner was staying in the property and paying mortgage. Would this affect my property rights?

No. Unless you have decided to sever the joint tenancy agreement, it will remain intact irrespective of which of you is staying on the property and paying the expenses.

Property rights can be shared by multiple individuals and one person may not wholly own rights to a single piece of land. Whatever the case may be, it is important to be well aware of your property rights to avoid illegal encroachments on your property and to get all the benefits owed to you by virtue of owning the property.
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