Personal Property Law and Why It Is Constantly Changing

real estate attorneys Los AngelesOne of the most pivotal ideas that contributed the development of the United States was the inclusion of personal property rights into the constitution. Personal property rights have evolved over the years to form specific instances of personal property law cases, setting precedents for how a dispute should be handled in the future. One of the weirdest cases, and most fascinating, is called an adverse possession case.

Adverse Possession
This law will vary from state to state, but all the iterations aim to answer one question. What happens if a property is abandoned or unclaimed?

Often, these cases are associated with the adjacent ‘squatters rights’ cases, but it doesn’t always happen this way.

In title 10 of California’s Civil procedures code, abandoned properties or properties for whom a legal owner can’t be found are then classified as ‘unclaimed property’. After three years without anyone claiming the property, it ‘escheats’, transferring to the government of California. In certain instances, a person living on the property without a claim to legal ownership can file for legal ownership. This is just one type of personal property rights that our forefathers would never have expected. Here are three more.

    1. Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Commission (1992)
      A beachfront property owner who owned his property prior to the introduction of a new law was no longer able to develop said property as a direct consequence of said law. The courts ruled to compensate him, as the law completely devalued his property.


    1. Nolan v. California Coastal Commission (1987)
      A new California law aimed to require public walkways on private land as a prerequisite for a building permit. This court case ruled against that prerequisite.


  1. Loretto v. Teleprompter Manhattan (1982)
    In New York, a new law permitted cable companies permanent access to private apartment building. The court decided that this was an invasion and infringement of privacy laws.

There are many other examples of property law that the founding fathers of our nation would never have expected to surface. Luckily, our laws are adaptable and fluid. If you need advice on a possibly unique personal property case of your own, contact a real estate attorney today.