Property is anything that is owned by a person or company. It can be bought, sold, traded, stolen, or destroyed. Property can be owned by a single person, or jointly between two or more people. Tangible items such as a car, books, clothes, DVDs, or that collection of weird looking clowns are considered personal property. Real estate or real property is the specific term used for land, with or without a building, including “just” the family home. Even pets are legally property. There is also intellectual property which are intangible creations of the human mind. Copyrights and trademarks are the most commonly known protections for these creations. Private property is owned by individuals, public property is owned by a governing body for the use of all.
There are laws and regulations affecting every type of property from what can be done with the property, to who can purchase it, or what happens to abandoned property. For the most part anything can be done with private property, so long as there is no harm to others. The majority of restrictions are placed on real property. Towns and cities regulate how real property can be used with zoning ordinances. These limit the number and size of houses in a given neighborhood, as well as if the property can be used for commercial or residential purposes. Ordinances also regulate how big a lot needs to be in order to build a house, and how far apart the houses must be. The State regulates land use for environmental reasons like protection of wetlands and other sensitive areas and endangered species. With multiple laws and regulations affecting the same parcel it can be difficult to determine if a proposed use of the land is allowable.
Wills and trusts are used to specify what happens to the property of a deceased person. Any property is considered an asset for estate planning purposes and there are restrictions on what can be done with certain assets, and taxes levied in some instances.