- Fee simple
Fee simple is an estate in land in
common law. It is the most common way real estateis owned in common law countries, and is ordinarily the most complete ownership interest that can be had in real propertyshort of allodial title, which is often reserved for governments. Fee simple ownership represents absolute ownership of real property but it is limited by the four basic government powers of taxation, eminent domain, police power, and escheatand could also be limited by certain encumbrances or a condition in the deed. How ownership is limited by these government powers often involves the shift from allodial titleto fee simple such as when uniting with other property owners acceding to property restrictions or municipal regulation.
Common law and history
common lawtheory, the Crownhas radical titleor the allodiumof all land in England, meaning that it is the ultimate "owner" of all land. However, the Crown can grant an abstract entity—called an estate in land—which is what is owned. The fee simple estate is also called "estate in fee simple" or "fee-simple title" and sometimes simply freehold in England and Wales. In the early Norman period, the holder of an estate in fee simple could not sell it, but instead could grant subordinate fee simple estates to third parties in the same parcel of land, a process known as " subinfeudation." The Statuteof Quia Emptoresadopted in 1290 abolished subinfeudation and instead allowed the sale of fee simple estates. [Henderson, Ernest F. "Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages", (London: George Bell and Sons, 1910), 149-150. [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/ed1-quia.html Excerpt] retrieved 2007-10-31.]
The concept of a "fee" has its origins in
feudalism. According to William Blackstone, the great common law commentator, fee simple is the estate in land that a person has when the lands are given to him and his heirs absolutely, without any end or limit put to his estate. Land held in fee simple can be conveyed to whomsoever its owner pleases; it can be mortgaged or put up as security as well. [Property: Examples and Explanations, B. Barlow Burke ] The owner(s) of real propertyin fee simple title have the right to own the property during their lifetime and typically have a say in determining who gets to own the property after their death. In a sense, one might say fee simple owners "own" the property "forever"; however, holders of an allodial title on land really do own the land forever, and the land is not subject to property tax.
Historically, estates could be limited in time, such as a
life estate, which is an interest in lands that terminates upon the grantee's (or another person's) death, even if the land had been granted to a third party, or a term of years (a lease for a specified term, such as in an estate for years). It also could be limited in the way that it was inherited, such as by what was called an "entailment" which created a fee tail. Traditionally, fee tail was created by words of grant such as "to N. and the male heirs of his body", which would restrict those who could inherit the property. When all those heirs ran out the property would revert to the original grantor's heirs. Most common law countries have abolished entailment by statute.
Many common law jurisdictions retain the possibility of creating a
life estate, although this is uncommon. In the U.S., life estates are most commonly used in the context of either giving a right to someone in a will to use property for the remainder of that person's (or another person's) life, or reserving to a grantor who is selling property the right to continue using the property for the remainder of his/her life. The right to ownership after the death of the subject person would be called the "remainder estate". In England and Wales fee simple is the only freehold estate that remains and a life estate can only be created in equity.
Types of fee simple
If previous grantors of a fee simple estate do not create any conditions for subsequent grantees to own the conveyed property in fee simple title, which is commonly the case these days, then the title is called fee simple absolute. Other fee simple estates in real property include fee simple defeasible (or fee simple determinable) estates. A defeasible estate is created when a grantor places a condition on a fee simple estate (in the
deed). Upon the happening of a specified event, the estate may become void or subject to annulment. Two types of defeasible estates are the fee simple determinable and the fee simple subject to a condition subsequent. If the grantor uses durational language in the condition such as "to A as long as the land is used for a park" then upon the happening of the specified event, the estate will automatically terminate and revert to the grantor or the grantor's estate; this is called a fee simple determinable. If the grantor uses language such as "but if alcohol is served" then the grantor or the heirs have a right of entry, but the estate does not automatically revert to the grantor; this is a fee simple subject to a condition subsequent. In the United States many of these concepts have been modified by statute in some states.
It is often said that no rent or similar obligations are due from the owner of property in fee simple. That is only partially true. For example, a
rentchargemay exist requiring a freeholder to pay a fixed sum of money closely resembling rent, and many jurisdictions have created financial obligations that may be imposed on a freehold estate. For instance, in England and Wales, the estate charge. In the United States, fee simple owners are subject to property taxand its funds directed to the municipality's general fund. Other local tax assessments called "specials" may be assessed in addition to the property tax to be applied to specific purposes such as road and water/sewer improvements. Real estate owned as a condominiumis usually similarly owned in fee simple, but typically subject to rules in the declaration of condominium or created by the condominium association, such as paying required monthly fees for maintaining the property's common areas.
Fee - A right in law to the use of land; i.e. a
fief. Simple - in the unconstrained sense:
# without limit to the inheritance of heirs;
# unrestricted as to transfer of ownership.
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Look at other dictionaries:
fee simple — fee sim·ple n pl fees simple [simple without limitation (as to heirs) and unrestricted (as to transfer of ownership)]: a fee that is alienable (as by deed, will, or intestacy) and of potentially indefinite duration; esp: fee simple absolute in… … Law dictionary
Fee simple — Fee Fee (f[=e]), n. [OE. fe, feh, feoh, cattle, property, money, fief, AS. feoh cattle, property, money; the senses of property, money, arising from cattle being used in early times as a medium of exchange or payment, property chiefly consisting… … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
fee simple — UK US noun [U] (also fee absolute) PROPERTY, LAW ► the right to own a building or piece of land without time limit: »The vendor was granted the fee simple of the property. → Compare LEASEHOLD(Cf. ↑leasehold) → … Financial and business terms
fee simple — n. 〚Anglo Fr: see FEE & SIMPLE〛 absolute ownership of real property with unrestricted rights of disposition * * * … Universalium
fee simple — Real property in which the owner is entitled to the entire property and subject to no conditions (SA Bankruptcy.com) Title to ownership without restriction or limitation. For example ownership of land in fee simple means the land is owned out… … Glossary of Bankruptcy
fee simple — n. [Anglo Fr: see FEE & SIMPLE] absolute ownership of real property with unrestricted rights of disposition … English World dictionary
fee simple — Typically, words fee simple standing alone create an absolute estate in devisee and such words followed by a condition or special limitation create a defeasible fee. Babb v. Rand, Me., 345 A.2d 496, 498. === Absolute. A fee simple absolute is an… … Black's law dictionary
fee simple — Synonyms and related words: adverse possession, alodium, burgage, claim, colony, copyhold, de facto, de jure, dependency, derivative title, equitable estate, estate at sufferance, estate for life, estate for years, estate in expectancy, estate in … Moby Thesaurus
fee-simple — feodum simplex, a simple or pure fee; fee simple Feodum talliatum, a fee tail. In old English law, a seigniory or jurisdiction. A fee, a perquisite or compensation for a service … Black's law dictionary
fee simple — The largest estate in land known to the law and implying absolute dominion over the land; an estate of inheritance clear of any condition, limitation, or restriction, to particular heirs. 28 Am J2d Est § 10. An estate of lawful inheritance or… … Ballentine's law dictionary