Every company has a clear interest in protecting their tangible assets. Property law protects every piece of property, traceable good, equipment, and other tangible assets your company may have, ensuring a more robust bottom line. A property lawyer can help you not only protect these assets properly, but also take best advantage of your property rights to make a bigger profit with the least amount of risk.
About Property Law
Everything your company owns from the pens and desks in the office to the land they all sit on is property, and with that property comes certain rights. Ownership of property gives you the exclusive right to sell, lease, use, and transfer that property as you see fit. Property law protects these rights and ensures that you can exercise your property rights freely as you see fit. Because of the wide range of legal issues related to property, including leases, contracts for sale, and many others, every company can benefit from consulting a property law attorney.
Sale of Goods Contracts
Almost every business sells something to someone—most often goods or movable property. An inherent right of the owner of any good is to sell it, which means that many companies need sale of goods contracts. These contracts can be as simple as implied contracts with consumers at the cash register or as complex as a massive international trade contract. Sale of goods contracts are often used again and again as the starting point of any trade deal negotiation, which means that poorly worded terms or unclear clauses don’t just open your company up to liabilities in one deal, but potentially in many. No matter what your product, a property law attorney can help limit your liability and ensure that transactions go smoothly.
Real Estate Property Law
Real property or real estate is perhaps one of the most important areas of property law—and the most complex. Because you cannot simply walk away with real estate after purchasing it, real estate property law requires extra attention.
Real Estate Sales and Real Estate Contracts
Selling and buying real estate requires a significant investment of both capital and time. These resources will be wasted without the right real estate contract. Real estate purchase agreements generally include fairly standard terms, yet you still must get an experienced lawyer to draft and review these documents before signing. Otherwise, you risk potential liabilities, unexpected costs or unexpected legal consequences.
Clearing and Transfer of Titles
Before real estate property can be sold, you must clear the title. Clearing the title gives the new owner a marketable title, free of liens, encroachments and encumbrances. Once the title is cleared, it can be transferred. Formal transfer of title is vital to do properly, otherwise you risk a legal dispute later. A real estate lawyer can help you ensure your title is clear and fully transferred, so you are granted full property rights for that piece of real estate.
A key property right includes usage rights, including the right to lease that property to another person to use. This is done through a lease or rental agreement. Leases and rental agreements are always a tricky area of property law due to the inherent conflict between the owner of the property and its user, which means these agreements must be drafted carefully. A real estate attorney can help you ensure that you have defined the relationship beneficially without stepping across any legal lines that could cause landlord-tenant or lessor-lessee conflict later.
Some of the most common property contracts that companies enter into involve bailments. Bailments are when property is turned over to another person or company for a specific purpose with the understanding that it will be returned after a specific goal has been accomplished. Essentially, a bailment is a contract that transfers property without giving permission to use it.
For example, sending in a piece of equipment to the shop to be repaired would be considered a bailment. Once the repairs are completed, your property will be returned, assuming that there are no liens against it (i.e. the repairs have been paid for). Bailments are vital contracts that you enter into every day, often using implied contracts, but companies must be even clearer about these relationships. It can help to have a lawyer draft a more formal bailment contract for transfers of particularly valuable property, such as large equipment or intellectual property, that limits the use of your property while it is out of your possession.
Easements and Other Limitations of Property Rights
Property rights are not absolute. There are certain legal limitations that you must keep in mind, whether they relate to how you use property safely or where you can move property or anything in between. Real estate and real property have the most limitations. For example, zoning laws prevent property from being used in certain ways in certain locations. Perhaps the most common limitation of property rights that relate to real property is easement.
Easements are property interests granted to a third party giving permission to use the land for a certain purpose without your permission despite your ownership. Easements can be positive or negative. Positive easements can be as small as permissions for the power company to enter your property to check the lines or much larger, such as permission for a boxed-in property owner to use a road through your land. There can also be negative easements, which restrict what you can do on the property. Common examples include building too near a property line or blocking a view of another property.
Does it matter who is currently in possession of the property in a lawsuit?
Yes. As the common expression goes, “possession is 9/10 of the law.” While not strictly the only factor considered in property law, possession has a large impact on the outcome of any case. If you are worried about how possession of contested goods, titles, or real estate may affect your claim, it can help to talk about the specifics with a property lawyer.