What Are the Legal Definitions of Ownership Under US Property Rights Law?

Ownership is the legal right to possess, use, and give away something. It can be tangible, such as personal property and land, or intangible, such as intellectual property rights. Property is any physical element, design, creative work, or tangible or intangible concept that is owned. Ownership of property refers to the legal right to exclude others from the specific object being owned.

This includes the right to own, use, transfer, and commercialize property. However, any of these rights are subject to change by the property owner. Real estate rights include the right to use the land area (surface rights), what's below the surface (underground rights), and water rights or riverine rights (the right to use the water you own and make reasonable use of water that flows on or near your property). The right of control is your right to use or control the use of property.

This could include things like making renovations or changes to the property, inviting guests over, or renting it out for income. Property rights depend on the form of co-ownership and how that title was acquired. The tenant's estate for life ends with the death of that person, after which the right of possession falls to the person who is the grantee of the property. In many cases, especially in the case of tangible objects, possession of personal property can be considered proof of ownership or make it more difficult for another person to refute their claim on it.

Zoning laws enacted in cities often create a system of negotiable limits to development known as “development rights”. Depending on your situation, you may have full access to your full package of rights or share them with other entities.