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Land tenure is the name given, particularly in common law systems, to the legal regime in which land is owned by an individual, who is said to “hold” the land (the French verb “tenir” means “to hold”; “tenant” is the present participle of “tenir”). The sovereign monarch, known as The Crown, held land in its own right. All private owners are either its tenants or sub-tenants. The term “tenure” is used to signify the relationship between tenant and lord, not the relationship between tenant and land.
Over history, many different forms of land ownership, i.e., ways of owning land, have been established.
A landholder/landowner is a holder of the estate in land with considerable rights of ownership or, simply put, an owner of land.
Main articles: Fief and Feudal land tenure in England
Historically in the system of feudalism, the lords who received land directly from the Crown were called tenants-in-chief. They doled out portions of their land to lesser tenants in exchange for services, who in turn divided it among even lesser tenants. This process—that of granting subordinate tenancies—is known as subinfeudation. In this way, all individuals except the monarch were said to hold the land “of” someone else.
Historically, it was usual for there to be reciprocal duties between lord and tenant. There were different kinds of tenure to fit various kinds of duties that a tenant might owe to a lord. For instance, a military tenure might be by knight-service, requiring the tenant to supply the lord with a number of armed horsemen. The concept of tenure has since evolved into other forms, such as leases and estates.
Modes of ownership and tenure
There is a great variety of modes of land ownership and tenure:
Traditional land tenure. For example, most of the indigenous nations or tribes of North America had no formal notion of land ownership. When Europeans first came to North America, they sometimes disregarded traditional land tenure and simply seized land; or, they accommodated traditional land tenure by recognizing it as aboriginal title. This theory formed the basis for treaties with indigenous peoples.
Ownership of land by swearing to make productive use of it. In several developing countries as Egypt, Senegal, … this method is still presently in use. In Senegal, it is mentioned as “mise en valeur des zones du terroir” and in Egypt, it is called Wadaa al-yad.
Allodial title, a system in which real property is owned absolutely free and clear of any superior landlord or sovereign. True allodial title is rare, with most property ownership in the common law world (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States) being in fee simple. Allodial title is inalienable, in that it may be conveyed, devised, gifted, or mortgaged by the owner, but it may not be distressed and restrained for collection of taxes or private debts, or condemned (eminent domain) by the government.
Feudal land tenure, a system of mutual obligations under which a royal or noble personage granted a fiefdom some degree of interest in the use or revenues of a given parcel of land — in exchange for a claim on services such as military service or simply maintenance of the land in which the lord continued to have an interest. This pattern obtained from the level of high nobility as vassals of a monarch down to lesser nobility whose only vassals were their serfs.
Fee simple. Under common law, this is the most complete ownership interest one can have in real property, other than the rare Allodial title. The holder can typically freely sell or otherwise transfer that interest or use it to secure a mortgage loan. This picture of “complete ownership” is, of course, complicated by the obligation in most places to pay a property tax and by the fact that if the land is mortgaged, there will be a claim on it in the form of a lien. In modern societies, this is the most common form of land ownership. Land can also be owned by more than one party and there are various concurrent estate rules.
Native title. In Australia, native title is a common law concept that recognizes that some indigenous people have certain land rights that derive from their traditional laws and customs. Native title can co-exist with non-indigenous proprietary rights and in some cases different indigenous groups can exercise their native title over the same land.
Courtesy : Wikipedia