Houses for Sale

Fee Simple Absolute Estate Vs. Fee Simple Defeasible Estate

A fee simple estate gives the owner free reign over the property they purchased. This means that anything they wish to do with the land or around the property is up to them; keeping in mind any restrictive covenants, zoning regulations, or other restrictions. A fee simple ownership is the most prevalent type of ownership in the United States and typically the majority of homes will be considered fee simple estates. This type of ownership is the most ideal and brings the most power.

Where Did Fee Simple Estates Come From?

A fee simple ownership dates pretty far back. At one point, knights and similar workers would hold land in exchange for certain services they carried out for their superiors. These superiors, or overlords, were then responsible for ensuring that the knights and other workers were safe from harm. The arrangement between the two parties was called a “fief.” This is where the “fee” in fee simple estate originated from. As time went on, the holding of land was abolished. Then all that was left was “simple” ownership and owners did not have to do anything in return to maintain the security of their land.

The Process

indefinite fee absolute estate

Fee simple ownership is indefinite, which means that the owner is able to act as they please with the property they own without consequence as long as they abide by the law and are not compromising the safety of the general public. Free reign does not cover illegal activity performed on the property. The owner may sell the property, rent the property out, or include it in their will. If you own a property like this, you can and most likely will be taxed. You will have a lien placed on your property if you fail to pay your taxes or if you owe money to a creditor. While fee simple ownership is the most secure form of ownership, it does not protect you from threats to your ownership of the property. This can happen to you no matter what, but fee simple ownership is the best assurance you can have on your homeownership status. Fee simple defeasible estate on the other hand is when the ownership rights depend solely on a specific event and whether it happens or does not happen. This means that if a new owner disobeys this stipulation of the agreement either by doing something they shouldn’t or not doing something they should, they could face legal consequences.

Fee Simple Defeasible Estates

The ownership of this type of estate is conditional and the previous property owner has every right to press charges if any terms are violated. This means that anything the previous owner wishes to outline in the contract has to be followed, regardless of what the new owner thinks. The previous property owner could stipulate that they do not want there to be any wild parties on their property or that the property cannot be used to house farm animals. Phrases such as “so long as” are used to protect the original owner in the event that things go wrong. For example, the contract might state that ownership is retained “so long as there are no wild parties.” If any terms are disobeyed by the new owner, as per the contract, their rights will be terminated effective immediately. The previous owner does not have to go through a long legal battle to get their property back in this case since the terms of the deal were broken by the other party. It is worth mentioning that this type of ownership restriction is not a common occurrence at all. It is more often seen in situations where the property is quite expansive and has been in a family for many, many years. These types of estates often come with such restrictions because of the wishes of previous generations. It is not very likely that you will be faced with anything like this when seeking out the average single-family dwelling or commercial property. It is much more common with large estates with a long history. Fee simple estates are the most common and the best form of ownership you can have over a property, although you are still subject to local zoning laws and regulations. Defeasible estates come with more restrictions, but you won’t need to worry about this unless you are looking into old and large estates or are inheriting one in a will.