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LEGAL TERMS

HOUSE CLOSING

The final transfer of the ownership of a house from the seller to the buyer, which occurs after both have met all the terms of their contract and the deed has b... (more...)
The final transfer of the ownership of a house from the seller to the buyer, which occurs after both have met all the terms of their contract and the deed has been recorded.

SETBACK

The distance between a property boundary and a building. A minimum setback is usually required by law.

EASEMENT BY PRESCRIPTION

A right to use property, acquired by a long tradition of open and obvious use. For example, if hikers have been using a trail through your backyard for ten year... (more...)
A right to use property, acquired by a long tradition of open and obvious use. For example, if hikers have been using a trail through your backyard for ten years and you've never complained, they probably have an easement by prescription through your yard to the trail.

SERVIENT TENEMENT

Property that is subject to use by another for a specific purpose. For example, a beachfront house that has a public walkway to the beach on its premises would ... (more...)
Property that is subject to use by another for a specific purpose. For example, a beachfront house that has a public walkway to the beach on its premises would be a servient tenement.

CONDITIONS OF CARRIAGE

The terms of your contract with an airline after you buy a ticket. Conditions of carriage cover everything from baggage limitations to the amount of compensatio... (more...)
The terms of your contract with an airline after you buy a ticket. Conditions of carriage cover everything from baggage limitations to the amount of compensation you can recover if you're injured on the flight. These provisions often vary from airline to airline. A few, but by no means most, conditions of carriage appear in the fine print on the back of your ticket. To find out about the rest, you can ask the airline for a copy; it is legally obligated to provide one. The conditions of carriage contain a lot of fine print detail and will not make for exciting reading.

MONTH-TO-MONTH TENANCY

A rental agreement that provides for a one-month tenancy that is automatically renewed each month unless either tenant or landlord gives the other the proper am... (more...)
A rental agreement that provides for a one-month tenancy that is automatically renewed each month unless either tenant or landlord gives the other the proper amount of written notice (usually 30 days) to terminate the agreement. Some landlords prefer to use month-to-month tenancies because it gives them the right to raise the rent after giving proper notice. This type of rental also provides a landlord with an easy way to get rid of troublesome tenants, because in most states month-to-month tenancies can be terminated for any reason.

SEIZURE

The taking of physical evidence or property by law enforcement officials. This runs the gamut from taking blood for a drug test to impounding a car used in a ro... (more...)
The taking of physical evidence or property by law enforcement officials. This runs the gamut from taking blood for a drug test to impounding a car used in a robbery. The police must generally obtain a search warrant, or court order, before they can seize personal property.

INVITEE

A business guest, or someone who enters property held open to members of the public, such as a visitor to a museum. Property owners must protect invitees from d... (more...)
A business guest, or someone who enters property held open to members of the public, such as a visitor to a museum. Property owners must protect invitees from dangers on the property. In an example of the perversion of legalese, social guests that you invite into your home are called 'licensees.'

QUASI-COMMUNITY PROPERTY

A form of property owned by a married couple. If a couple moves to a community property state from a non-community property state, property they acquired togeth... (more...)
A form of property owned by a married couple. If a couple moves to a community property state from a non-community property state, property they acquired together in the non-community property state may be considered quasi-community property. Quasi-community property is treated just like community property when one spouse dies or if the couple divorces.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

CASPIAN v. Zoning Bd.

The issue on this appeal is whether a municipal zoning board may deny requested area variances on the basis of common-law principles that are independent of the statutory factors enumerated under Town Law § 267-b (3). In particular, we are asked to determine whether ongoing ...

MATTER OF GENSER v. Board of Zoning and Appeals of Town of North Hempstead

Meanwhile, after a public hearing on January 3, 2006, the Town of North Hempstead adopted the zoning amendment which provided, inter alia, that the minimum lot width in the residence A district where the lot is located must be either 65 feet or the average width of the lots ...

MATTER OF WEST BEEKMANTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION, INC. v. Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Beekmantown

Petitioners contend that the ZBA's issuance of a negative declaration and subsequent grant of the conditional use permit was improper because the determination that the proposed wind farm constituted an essential service as defined by the Town Zoning Law was arbitrary and ...