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Louisiana Civil Law Property: Home

Introduction: Ownership of Property

Ownership is the right and exclusive authority over a thing. Ownership of property consists of 3 real rights: usus, abusus, and fructus. 

  • Usus is the right to use a thing.
  • Abusus is the right to dispose of a thing as long as it is not infringing upon health, safety and welfare.
  • Fructus is the right to the fruits produced by or derived from a thing without diminution of the thing's substance. 

The rights in property ownership are exclusive. The rights in property ownership include ownership, personal and predial servitudes, and such other real rights as recognized by law. 

Types of rights in property ownership are real and personal rights. Real rights are allowable modifications of ownership; for example, upon the sale of property the new owner is subjected to the real right. 

Ownership of property exists independently from the exercise of possession. Possession becomes ownership only if acquisitive prescription is at issue. 

Transfer of Ownership

In order to transfer an immovable, a contract is required between the owner and the transferee purporting to transfer ownership. Transfer of an immovable occurs when filed with the registry office.

To transfer a movable there must be a contract between the owner and the transferee purporting to transfer ownership. Transfer of a movable occurs upon delivery unless otherwise indicated in the contract. 

When a movable is in possession of a third party the assignment of the action for recovery constitutes a transfer of ownership to the party who then recovers.

Protection of Ownership

Owners are entitled to recover their property from anyone who possesses their property without the right to possess it. Constructions by bad faith possessors, which are inseparable improvements, cannot be removed. An owner is required to keep improvements made by a possessor (or tenant) and pay either the cost of materials or enhanced value of the immovable property. The owner may keep those things that will result in economic waste when removed or demolished. 

Evicted possessors, regardless of good or bad faith, are entitled to recover compensation for necessary expenses for preservation of the property. A good faith possessor is entitled to recover from the owner his useful expenses to the extent that they improved the land (enhanced the value of the thing).

Public Record Law

Any written act giving one a right to an immovable must be recorded to be enforceable against third parties. On the contrary, anything gained through acquisitive prescription does not have to be recorded.

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