Property rights comprise a multi-layered legal framework. The application of your powers can be complex, but your total control of a parcel is rarely absolute in Louisiana. Zoning laws represent the most common form of use restriction. Beyond this, property rights may be distributed or diluted through various agreements or leases.
5 types of property rights
As the property owner, you have the ability to exercise, or not exercise, five components of your property rights.
- Right of possession – You possess it unless a lienholder, like a lender or homeowners’ association, has recorded a claim against the land. A lienholder may have the right to take possession if unpaid.
- Right of control – You decide what happens on the land and what is built there in accordance with zoning regulations.
- Right of exclusion – You can prevent people from entering the property unless you choose to rent to a tenant or law enforcement has a search warrant.
- Right to derive income – You may use the land to generate revenue as long as the activity is not illegal in some way.
- Right of disposition – You decide who to sell the land to or give it away while alive or through an estate plan. However, an eminent domain action by a public entity can force the sale under certain circumstances.
Above and below the surface
The law outlines rights to all physical aspects of your land, including:
- Surface – right to the visible surface where you can build
- Subsurface – right to subterranean resources like oil or gas
- Riparian – right to use water at lake shores or river banks
- Air – right to use or restrict access to air above your land
Common sources of conflict
As you can imagine, the interrelated aspects of property rights can form points of contention among different parties. Neighbors might argue over a boundary. You might disagree with the interpretation of zoning rules. You may need to evict a squatter. Whatever the situation, you should prioritize exercising or defending your rights to prevent losing them.