Real estate laws are laws that govern the ownership and transfer of real property. Real property is a term that describes land and everything on the land including structures and plant life. Real property also defines air space above the land, and rights to deposits of minerals beneath the soil. Real estate laws differ depending on legal jurisdiction of the real property. In addition to ownership, real estate law also addresses leasing, property liens, and fair housing.
Many laws that affect real estate are associated with rights of ownership. Having ownership of a property typically gives the owner the right to sell or mortgage the property, to bequeath the property, and to build on the property. Property owners are usually given a deed or title to the property to enable them to prove and document ownership. In most countries, deeds are recorded and records are kept indefinitely. These records typically show a complete history of ownership for any given property.
Other real estate laws are designed to protect both tenants and property owners who are involved in a tenancy agreement. Most of the time, a written contract is required to outline the conditions of the lease. In most cases, lease agreements should indicate a beginning and ending date, and any stipulations regarding maintenance of the property. Other tenancy laws outline the steps that must be taken to evict a non-paying tenant, or a tenant who is in violation of a rental agreement.
In many jurisdictions, it is legal to place liens against a property in an attempt to collect a debt. This is often complex, and there are usually real estate laws in place to govern how this process can be done. The lien holder usually must be able to show absolute proof that they have the right to place the lien, and the property owner is usually given the opportunity to dispute the lien. If the lien stays in place, the money owed must be paid when the property is sold.
Some types of real estate laws apply to lenders and govern the way mortgages and foreclosures are handled. Most of the time, these laws require that the property owner be given a fair amount of time to vacate the premises in the event of foreclosure. They may also require that interest rates be fixed below a certain percentage, depending on the type of loan involved.
Many legal jurisdictions require that real property ownership or tenancy should not be dependent on religion, race, age, or national origin. These types of real estate laws are established to prevent discrimination. In most cases, violations of fair housing laws are taken very seriously, and could result in expensive fines.