Possessory Interest Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Possessory Interest, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Possessory Interest?

n.The right of aperson to retain,occupy and have rightsl over any property is called possessory interest in real estate.They vary in different states and in different circumstances for ex: mechanic can retain the car for unpaid repair bills.

History and Meaning of Possessory Interest

Possessory interest refers to the right of a person to possess, control, and enjoy property. This term is commonly used in the field of real estate law and allows a person to retain ownership and control of property even if they do not have legal title to it. The history of possessory interest can be traced back to English common law, where it was used to distinguish between different types of rights and interests in land.

In the United States, possessory interests are typically recognized through state laws and vary depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances. For example, a mechanic may have a possessory interest in a car that has been left with them for unpaid repair bills. In some cases, possessory interests may be created through adverse possession, where a person gains legal ownership of a property by openly occupying it for a certain period of time and meeting other legal requirements.

Examples of Possessory Interest

  1. Jane rents an apartment from ABC Apartments. While she does not legally own the apartment, she has a possessory interest in it as long as she occupies and controls the space.

  2. Bob has a garage on his property where he stores his boat. Even though Bob's neighbor, Carl, claims that the garage is on his property, Bob has a possessory interest in the garage because he openly and exclusively uses it.

  3. Sam's father dies without a will, leaving his house to be divided between Sam and his siblings. Sam moves into the house and begins paying for all of the expenses associated with it. Through adverse possession, Sam gains a possessory interest in the house and eventually becomes the legal owner.

Legal Terms Similar to Possessory Interest

  1. Adverse Possession - the legal principle whereby a person can gain ownership of property by openly and exclusively occupying it for a certain period of time and meeting other legal requirements.

  2. Easement - a legal right to use someone else's property for a specific purpose, such as to access a driveway or to run utility lines.

  3. Right of Way - a legal right to travel over a specific piece of property, such as a public road or a private driveway.