Freehold

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An interest in land, housing or other real property that permits the owner to enjoy possession during her/his life without interference from others.


An estate of freehold is an estate in lands or other real property, held by a free tenure, for the life of the tenant, or that of some other person holding the freehold tenure, or for some uncertain period. Freehold tenure, frank tenement, or liberum tenementum was formerly described to be such an estate as could be created only by livery of seisin, a ceremony similar to the investiture of the feudal law. However, since the introduction of certain modern conveyances and methods by which an estate of freehold may be created without livery of seisin, that old description is not sufficient. Freehold estates may be inherited, or subject to inheritance.


Two qualities are essentially requisite to the existence of a freehold estate:

  1. Immobility; that is, the property must either be land or some interest issuing out of or annexed to land;
  2. A sufficient legal indeterminate duration; for, if the utmost period of time to which an estate can last is fixed and determined, it is not an estate of freehold. For example, if lands are conveyed to a person and her/his heirs, or for her/his life, or for the life of another, or until s/he shall be married, or leave the country, s/he has an estate of freehold. However, if such lands are limited to a person for one hundred or five hundred years, if s/he should live so long, s/he has not an estate of freehold.[1]

[1]   John Bouvier, A Law Dictionary 6th edition (Philadelphia: Childs & Peterson, 1856).

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