Usufruct Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Usufruct?

The right to utilize or earn revenue from another person’s property.

History and Meaning of Usufruct

Usufruct is a civil law concept that originated in Roman law. The term "usufruct" comes from the Latin phrase "usus et fructus," which translates to "use and fruit." It refers to the right to use and enjoy another person's property, and to receive the profits and benefits derived from that property, without owning it.

Under the Roman law, usufruct was a right granted to a person, known as the usufructuary, who was not the owner of the property but had the right to use it and enjoy its fruits. The owner, known as the naked owner, retained ownership of the property but could not use it or enjoy its fruits during the term of the usufruct. The concept of usufruct has been adopted by many legal systems around the world, including in civil law jurisdictions and in common law jurisdiction.

Examples of Usufruct

  1. A father may grant his son the usufruct of a property for a set number of years, during which time the son can rent out the property and keep the rental income, but cannot sell the property itself.

  2. A farmer may grant a neighbor the usufruct of a portion of his land for grazing, allowing the neighbor to use the land for their livestock and keep any profits gained from the animals, such as milk.

  3. A manufacturer may grant a third-party the right to use the patents for their equipment, allowing the third-party to manufacture the equipment and keep any profits from the sales.

Legal Terms Similar to Usufruct

  1. Easement - a right to use another person's land for a specific purpose, such as gaining access to a roadway or utility lines.

  2. License - a permission given by the owner of an intellectual property or physical property to use the property for a limited time and purpose.

  3. Right of Way - a right granted to one party to pass over another party's land for a specific purpose, such as a road or walking path.

  4. Occupancy - the use and possession of another person's property without ownership, but with the owner's permission, often for a designated period.