Freehold and Leasehold
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- Common Law
- In common law jurisdictions like England and Wales, Australia, Canada, and Ireland, a freehold is the common ownership of real property, or land, and all immovable structures attached to such land. It is in contrast to a leasehold: in which the property reverts to the owner of the land after the lease period has expired.
- For an estate to be a freehold, it must possess two qualities: immobility (property must be land or some interest issuing out of or annexed to land) and ownership of it must be of an indeterminate duration. If the time of ownership can be fixed and determined, it cannot be a freehold. It is "An estate in land held in fee simple, fee tail or for term of life." A subset is a perpetual freehold, which is "an estate given to a grantee for life, and then successively to the grantee's heirs for life."
- In the United States land ownership typically confers natural resources ownership - right to exploit - unless otherwise limited by parcel covenants. There are four main types of land owners: citizens and corporations; the federal government; state and local governments; and Native American tribes and individuals. There are two types of owners for submerged lands under the ocean: states and the federal government. Federal lands include the "Outer Continental Shelf" submerged lands located farther than three miles off a state’s coastline, or three marine leagues into the Gulf of Mexico off of Texas and Western Florida. States own the submerged lands under the ocean stretching from a state’s coast to three miles out into the ocean, or in the case of Texas and western Florida, from the coast out to three marine leagues into the Gulf of Mexico. In general, states have primary authority and natural resource ownership in the three-mile area extending outward from their coasts. The federal government owns oil, gas, and minerals located in the submerged lands on the Outer Continental Shelf, which extend from the states’ offshore boundaries out to at least 200 nautical miles from the shore.
- Private individuals and corporations, as well as federal, state, local, and tribal governments, can own both land and the oil, gas, coal, and other minerals found below the surface. In fact, widespread private ownership of these resources makes the U.S. different from nearly every other country in which these resources simply belong to the national government. In the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries, land remains owned by the Crown - even if the freehold is not directly part of the Crown Estates. The United States and certain South American countries are unusual in having natural resource rights to pass to private ownership. Split ownership is not uncommon in North America and in the USA 57 million acres of land is owned by a joint venture, with the federal government owning oil, gas, coal, and other minerals below the surface, but another party, mostly citizens or corporations, owning the surface land above.