»  Updates

Note: This is the webpage for a class from the past that has ended. Information about current classes is available here.

Sample midterm. I have uploaded the sample midterm exam here. We will discuss it in class on Tuesday, March 21. The real midterm will be distributed on Friday, March 24 and will be due on Wednesday, March 29.

Rule Against Perpetuities summary. I have uploaded the Rule Against Perpetuities summary from class 14 here.

March and April class schedule. I have scheduled four make-up classes in March and April, all on Thursdays: March 16 in the Rich Room; March 30 in room 229; April 6 in room 205; April 13 in Room 229; and April 20 in room 205. All these make-up classes will be from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. We will not hold class on Friday, March 31.

Estates summary. I have uploaded the estates summary from class 11 here.

February class schedule. In February, we will hold three make-up classes on Thursdays: February 2 in room 229; February 9 in room 205 (never mind, snow day); and February 23 in room 205. All the make-up classes will be from 1:15 pm to 3:15 pm. We will not hold class on Friday, February 10.

»  Introduction

The official UNH course description for Property is this:

This course will introduce and illustrate the fundamental legal concepts and terms involved in the control of three kinds of property: real estate, chattels (goods), and intellectual property. With primary emphasis on real property, we will study the rights and powers of ownership, how they are acquired and transferred, how ownership can be shared (either simultaneously or over time, including future interests, leases, and licenses), recording systems and the rights of purchasers or lien holders, and sovereign powers (grant, escheat, eminent domain, regulation, and forfeiture).

This is true as far as it goes, but it does a poor job of capturing what this class is really about. The core substantive first-year law-school classes — torts, contracts, property, (at most schools) criminal law — are taught to everyone and tested on the bar exam because they form the basic building blocks of how society regulates behavior. Torts and crim tell us how the law deters, remedies, and punishes harms committed against another; without these doctrines we would be on perpetual lookout for threats to our safety, security, and solitude. Contracts tells us how the law regulates promises and exchanges; without these doctrines it would be hard or impossible to plan for the future. And property tells us how the law governs resources, or things that can be owned and possessed — land and houses, cars and laptops, and less-tangible resources like stocks and bonds, wireless spectrum rights, even in some cases ideas and regulatory exclusivities. Without property law, some of these resources would be fought over; others would be under- or over-used; others would never come into existence in the first place.

The ideas in this course, then, show up throughout the law and throughout the law-school curriculum. If you wind up practicing intellectual-property law, real-estate law, environmental law, corporate law, family law, or any of several other fields, you will deal with property issues and property concepts every day. And even if you don’t deal with property issues in your practice, you will in your personal life, whenever you buy or lease a home or a car, deal with a homeowners’ association or city building inspector, or think about starting a business, obtaining a copyright or patent, or planning an estate.

Because the course touches on so many issues, it can feel like a bit of a grab bag. One useful organizing principle is to think about it like this. Imagine a two-dimensional grid. Each of the columns represents a different kind of property: land; buildings; cars; money; mineral deposits; copyrights; and so forth. Each row is a type of question we can ask about that kind of property: What does it mean to “own” this kind of property? How does this kind of property become property in the first place? How does this kind of property change owners? How can multiple people divide up ownership of this kind of property? How does one prove ownership of this kind of property? How can the government regulate this kind of property? And so forth. We won’t answer all of those questions for every kind of property in this course — many of them are the province of other courses, and this course tends to emphasize real property, to the occasional detriment of other kinds of property — but we will begin to think about how we can answer them.

»  Materials

The casebook is Dukeminier, Krier, Alexander, Schill, & Strahilevitz, Property (8th ed. 2014). It’s available in several formats, including hardcover, digital, and looseleaf editions. (The “Concise Edition” will not work; do not buy it.) Please note that if you choose the “Rental + CasebookConnect” version, you are just renting the physical book and will have to return it at the end of the semester. Rental and used copies are also available from Amazon at a significant discount.

In addition to the casebook, I will post occasional readings and assignments on this site. I will not be using TWEN or Blackboard.

If you’re interested in a supplement (though one is by no means required for the class), John Sprankling’s Understanding Property Law and Barlow Burke & Joseph Snoe’s Examples & Explanations: Property are both pretty good; no need to get the latest version, since property law doesn’t change that quickly.

»  Class meetings, office hours, and teaching assistant

We will meet on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in room 205. On a few occasions, I will need to cancel class because of a conflict; we will make up those sessions at times announced in class and posted on this site.

Outside of class, I don’t have set office hours, but you are always welcome to stop by my office (room 281) and chat or just grab some candy. I will be in the office most days (afternoons are more likely than mornings). To set up a specific time to talk, please email me at roger.ford@nulllaw.unh.edu.

The teaching assistant for the class is Anna Lukacher. She will host periodic review sessions; more information about those sessions will be announced in class. She is also available to meet outside of class; email her at anl1007@nullunhlaw.unh.edu to set up a time.

»  Attendance, participation, and evaluation

Regular attendance is required, and under the standard ABA rules, you may be barred from taking the examination and receiving credit for the course if you miss more than 20% of class sessions. Attendance will be taken by sign-in sheet, and signing in for someone else is, as always, academic misconduct.

I expect you to come to class prepared, having read and considered the assigned materials. I will call on students to ensure broad participation; you are also welcome — nay, encouraged — to volunteer responses, questions, and comments.

An occasional absence is fine, but please let me know by 6:00 p.m. the night before class so I can avoid calling on you. Likewise, if for any reason you will not be prepared to discuss the assignment for a particular class, email me by 6:00 p.m. the night before and I won’t call on you, no questions asked.

Your course grade will be based on two components: a short take-home midterm exam (25%) and a take-home final exam (75%). We will discuss the content and timing of the midterm in class; the final will be comprehensive. I may adjust grades upward or downward by one step on the grading scale (for instance, from a B-plus to an A-minus or a B) for participation that is especially helpful or insightful, or for any students who are repeatedy unprepared or absent.

»  Competencies

In 2013, the faculty approved a list of competencies that are important to the practice of law. For a list of those competencies, indicating which will be covered in this class, click here.

»  Schedule and reading assignments

Last updated April 5, 2017.

The following list of reading assignments will be filled in over the course of the semester. We will cover approximately one assignment per day. “DK” refers to the casebook.

How property becomes property

  1. Origins. This syllabus; DK 3–26.
  2. Capture and custom. DK 26–33; Popov.
  3. Creation. DK 56–76.
  4. Personhood. DK 76–104.
  5. Find. DK 125–144.
  6. Adverse possession. DK 144–169.
  7. Adverse possession II. DK 170–189.
  8. Gift. DK 189–206.

Dividing ownership over time and between people

  1. Fee simple, fee tail, and life estates. DK 209–234; Unsel.
  2. Life-estate conflicts and defeasible fees. DK 235–256.
  3. Future interests and trusts. DK 275–303; Folsom.
  4. Future interests and trusts, continued.
  5. The rule against perpetuities. DK 307–335; Jee.
  6. The rule against perpetuities, continued.
  7. Co-ownership. DK 343–48, 354–59, 361–71.
  8. Marriage. DK 383–401.
  9. Leasehold estates and landlord-tenant law. DK 443–53, 461–65, 482–92.
  10. Affordable housing. DK 515–26, 531–34.

The rights of owners and regulating ownership

  1. The right to use. DK 777–786; 790–808.
  2. The rights to exclude, abandon, and destroy. DK 104–124.
  3. Mineral and water rights. DK 36–40; Hammonds; Texas American Energy; Stratton; Coffin.
  4. Easements I. DK 809–820; 825–847.
  5. Easements II. DK 856–875.
  6. Covenants and equitable servitudes. DK 892–909.
  7. Common-interest communities. DK 909–921; 937–954.
  8. Zoning I. DK 967–996.
  9. Zoning II. DK 1010–1020; 1080–1097.
  10. Takings. DK 1107–1127.