Common Property

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Common Property has several related meanings.

First, Common Property is real property that is owned by "tenants in common." Because it is Common Property, the “tenants in common” each have an "undivided interest" in the entire property altogether. Resources grown on lands that are owned by “tenants in common” would also be considered Common Property. For example, harvest produced on land owned by “tenants in common” is considered “common property”, and hence, the “tenants in common” cannot remove that harvest since it is of another cotenant's interest and can only be removed with previous authorization or subsequent approval by the cotenant.

Second, Common Property can also be property that is managed by a homeowners' association in a subdivision development or a condominium project. In these instances, it is considered Common Property because all of the owners may use the property (the subdivision development or the condominium project) and each owns a specific percentage interest.

Third, Common Property can also refer to lands that are owned by the government for public (common) use, such as national parks and forests. For instance, certain lands can be considered “common property” when those lands involved belong to a body of citizenship. Additionally, geographic names of places are generally considered to be “common property” and thus may not be appropriated as a “trade name” in ordinary circumstances. Moreover, “common property” also refers to the natural resources on those lands. For example, water flowing naturally in a channel of a stream or other source is common property.

Fourth, Common Property can sometimes refer to the resources deep underneath the surface of land. In fact, the property right of oil and gas deep below the surface to the owner or lessee of land is not an absolute property right and thus, because of their peculiar natural state of such substances, they are closer to “common property” title than to absolute property. Indeed, such substances only become absolute when those substances are effectively captured and reduced to possession.

[Last updated in May of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]