Property Rights

Property rights can be assigned just as any other contractual right.  Through an assignment, the assignor transfers all the duties and liabilities as well as the complete interest to the assignee.[i]  Following assignment, the assignor cannot retain any sort of reversionary interest.  If any interest is retained by a tenant after transfer, than the act is not an assignment but a sublease.[ii]

The liability of the assignee after assignment depends on the terms of the assignment.  Generally, the assignee has “privity of estate with a lessor.”  The assignee has the duty to perform certain obligations that come along with privity of estate.  For example, payment of rent is such an obligation.  Under privity of estate, the lessor also has certain obligations.  For example, maintenance of the property and repairs.[iii]

Therefore, if the assignor defaults with regard to any of his/her obligations, then the lessor can sue the assignor under the original contract signed by him/her.  The lessor can also sue the assignee because by taking possession of the property interest, the assignee has obliged himself to perform all the duties that come along with possession.[iv]

In Du Bois v. Judy, 291 Ill. 340, 349 (Ill. 1920), the court held that an executory devise can be assigned only when the identity of the person to whom it was assigned is certain and cannot be assigned if the persons to take the estate cannot be ascertained until the contingency occurs.  Further in Union Supply Co. v. Morris, 220 Cal. 331 (Cal. 1934), the court held that a mechanic’s lien like a mortgage or judgment lien is incidental to the debt secured.  A lien alone is “neither a property nor a debt” and therefore a lien cannot be assigned apart from that debt.[v]

[i] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assignment_(law)#Assignment_of_property_rights

[ii] Id.

[iii] Id.

[iv] Id.

[v] Union Supply Co. v. Morris, 220 Cal. 331 (Cal. 1934); See also, Roberts v. Powers, 303 Ky. 489, 492 (Ky. 1946)


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