Fee Simple vs. Defeasible Ownership

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Real Estate

When it comes to real estate ownership, there are two primary types of ownership: fee simple and defeasible. While both types of ownership involve the right to use and possess a property, there are some key differences between the two.

Fee Simple Ownership:

Fee simple ownership is the most common type of property ownership in which the owner has complete and unrestricted ownership of the property. In other words, the owner has the right to use, sell, mortgage, or lease the property as they see fit. Fee simple ownership is considered the highest form of ownership interest because it gives the owner the most control over the property.

In the state of Florida, fee simple ownership is the default type of ownership for most real estate transactions. When you buy a property in Florida, you are typically purchasing the property in fee simple ownership.

Defeasible Ownership:

Defeasible ownership is a type of ownership that includes conditions or restrictions on how the property can be used. These conditions or restrictions are usually spelled out in the deed to the property, and they can limit the owner's rights to use, sell, or transfer the property. If the owner violates the conditions or restrictions, ownership of the property may be transferred to another party or revert to the original owner.

There are two primary types of defeasible ownership: determinable and conditional.

Determinable Defeasible Ownership:

In determinable defeasible ownership, the ownership interest automatically ends or "determines" if a specific condition is met or not met. For example, if the owner of a property places a restriction on the property that it can only be used as a park, and the property is used for another purpose, then ownership of the property would automatically transfer back to the original owner.

Conditional Defeasible Ownership:

In conditional defeasible ownership, the ownership interest is conditioned on a specific event or condition. However, if the condition is not met, the owner does not automatically lose their ownership interest. Instead, the original owner or a third party must take legal action to regain control of the property.

In the state of Florida, defeasible ownership is less common than fee simple ownership, but it can be used in certain situations. For example, a developer may place restrictions on a property that they are selling to ensure that the property is used for a specific purpose, such as a commercial development or a residential community.

Understanding the difference between fee simple and defeasible ownership is important when it comes to buying or selling real estate in Florida. While fee simple ownership is the default type of ownership, defeasible ownership can be used in certain situations to restrict the use of a property. Whether you are buying or selling a property, it's important to work with an experienced real estate professional who can help you navigate the legal nuances of real estate ownership in Florida.


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