David Saks: Estates In Land

David Saks - Real Estate Broker - The Real Estate Mart of Tennessee, Inc. - 4040 North Watkins-Suite #4 - Memphis, Tennessee 38127 - Phone (901) 357-4663

Estates In Land


What we call an estate in land is a term used primarily to define the extent of an owner's interest in real property.

In it's general sense, an estate in land also defines the quantity, nature and degree of the ownership.

There are a bunch of different types of estates but not all interests in real estate are estates.

To be considered an estate in land the interest has to allow possession to tke place as we speak or at some time down the road and has to be continuous in some way.

An example might be the owner of a restaurant who has all the right to the income from the restaurant and the right to do whatever they want to with the property which might be part of their bundle of legal rights.

They can build something else there, sell it, tear it down, etc.

The place belongs to them.

However, when someone comes in and orders something off of the menu they have an interest in the property, but that interest isn't considered an estate.

The customer's interest is limited to their temporary use of the place as a customer.

There are two types of estates in land.

One is called a freehold estate and the other is called a leasehold estate.

The distinguishing factor between the two types is the amount of time or duration of their possession.

The most noticeable element in the freehold estate the fact that it lasts for an indeterminable length of time, including a lifetime and forever more.

The most significant types of the freehold estate are the fee simple estate which is also called a indefeasible fee estate. a defeasible fee estate and a life estate.

Indefeasible and defeasible fee estates continue without a definite period and may be passed on to your heirs.

The life estates principal quality is the fact that it's based on the lifetime of a person and ends when that person dies.

Leasehold estates will last for a definite or a fixed period of time and include estates for years or estates that last for years, estate which continue for period to period such as a monthly lease, and estates at will and estates at sufferance which usually don't have any fixed terms because an estate at will is just that; an estate which is governed by someone's will to allow another to occupy the preperty.

The estate at sufferance is when someone pretty much takes over your property and lives there against your will, such a tardy tenant.

So there we have it.

Estates in Land made simple.

Hope you enjoyed it.

David Saks

Time&Temp Memphis

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Comment balloon 4 commentsDavid Saks • April 27 2008 12:24AM


Totally different in California, I guess it differs from state to state
Posted by Jean Powers, CRS,e-PRO,HAFA,SFR Broker, Northern California (Kane & Associates call 510.908.9002) over 12 years ago

You generally have leasehold and leased fee, the former being the right to occupy the space for a duration of time and the later being the right to receive income from rents collected.

I don't think most leasehold estates incude the right to knock down the improvments, or anything of the sort.


Posted by David Farrell, Licensed NY State Real Estate Broker (David V. Farrell Co.) over 12 years ago
Interesting, Jean. I've always thought the concept of estate in land appled universally, with the exception of a few modifications regarding the disposition of leasehold estates or defeasible fee in other jurisdictions based on legislature or regional laws.
Posted by David Saks ((retired)) over 12 years ago
I don't think they do, either, David, unless tenant improvements are contracturally approved and allow modifications to existing structures.
Posted by David Saks ((retired)) over 12 years ago

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