Property Possession, Ownership, Tenure—The Differences Explained

POSSESSION is understood to be one’s intentional control of a thing. Therefore, one can possess property, and more particularly, real property. Property can be possessed in the form of ownership as well as in the form of tenure, which are the two main ways of property possession. However, there are other forms of possession as there are various types of property, and things to be possessed in general.

OWNERSHIP is the factual legal possession of property, which provides certain multiple rights of ownership under the Title. Via these rights, ownership can be gained or acquired, transferred, and or lost.

TENURE is a legal form of possession of property, with the following two main types, land tenure and housing tenure.

In the case of land tenure, the possessed property is not owned, but held. The party thus holding the property is not the actual owner of the property. This legal relationship between the (land) owner or the (land) lord and the (land) holder or the tenant, or sub-tenant is established through a formal agreement. This includes the terms and conditions, and the duration of possession, as well as the rights and responsibilities of each party.

In the case of housing tenure, certain rights are given for occupying a property, such as a house or an appartment. The two most common ones are owner-occupancy, with the occupant being the property owner, and tenancy, with the occupant renting from the peoperty owner or landlord. Other forms include cooperative, condominium, public housing, squatting, land trust.

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