What Is The Difference Between Personal And Private Property?

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When people hear the term personal and private property, there can be a bit of confusion. Even though they may seem to be similar, there are some unique differences.

Under the law, personal property is defined as anything which can be moved. In other words, a car would be considered your personal property. On the other hand, private property is any property not owned by the government, city, county, or federal agency.

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Personal Vs. Private Property

Personal and private property may seem to be the same, but they have some differences. The differences make a difference in how each of these kinds of property is defined.

Personal Property Defined

Personal property may seem the same as private property, but some legal differences exist.

Personal property is movable property. In the standard law system, personal property may be called chattels. In the civil law system, personal property is usually called movable property.

Personal property would be any property that can be moved. This would include things such as a car, boat, or trailer. A mobile home that can be picked up and moved to another location is considered personal property.

The Cornell Law School defines personal property as:

“Any movable thing or intangible item of value that is capable of being owned by a person and not recognized as real property.  Synonymous with chattel.

Cornell Law SchoolB

Private Property Defined

In law, private property can have several other meanings. But private property usually refers to the ownership of property, also known as real property. Private property can be anything other than what would be considered federal or government-owned.

For example, a National Park is considered public property as the land, and the Federal government owns the parks. Someone’s land or house would be regarded as private property.

The Cornell Law School defines Private Property as:

“Private property refers to the ownership of property by private parties – essentially anyone or anything other than the government. Private property may consist of real estate, buildings, objects, intellectual property (copyright, patent, trademark, and trade secrets). The transfer of a private property commonly takes place by the owner’s consent or through a sale or as a gift.”

Cornell Law School

Private property is anything owned by a private individual or entity, in a sense, anyone other than the government. Private property is very different than public property, which is the property that the government or its agencies own.

Personal Vs. Private Property Differences Explained

Personal and private property may seem the same, but some differences exist. Legally, they are not viewed the same way under the law.

In the case of real estate, personal property is the moveable property; real property is not moveable as houses, lands, and buildings but is also private property.

Also, under the law, the car you own would be considered both your personal property as it is moveable and your private property as you own it.

Also, any property you own, such as land or houses, would be considered private property and your real property; they are not considered personal property as they are not moveable.

Legally, there are some very subtle differences between what is considered your personal vs. private property and how the law views and defines each of these terms.

The Case Of Walmart – Is Walmart Private Property?

It can sometimes get confusing when people look at what is considered a public space and what is private property. When you think of private property, you often think about the sign that someone may put on their land that says, “Private property do not enter .”

But private property can also be a business open to the public.

Walmart Store

In the case of Walmart, it is considered private property. Every time you enter a store like Walmart, you enter the private property where Walmart has permitted you to enter. A business can be open to the public, owned by anyone except the federal government, state county, or city government, and be considered private property.

The Walmart store, the land it is on, and where you park your car in their parking lot are all considered private property. Walmart either owns the property or is leasing the property from another private individual or entity.

But in the case of Walmart, they have opened up their property and invited the public into their store during “normal business hours.”

Even though private and personal property may seem similar, there are some unique legal differences between the two types of property.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between personal property and private property?

Personal property refers to movable possessions that individuals own, such as cars, furniture, and clothing. Private property, on the other hand, refers to any property that is not owned by the government, city, county, or federal agency.

Can you provide examples of personal property?

Examples of personal property include vehicles, electronics, jewelry, household items, artwork, and personal belongings.

What are some examples of private property?

Private property encompasses various types of property, including residential homes, commercial buildings, vacant land, farms, and privately owned businesses.

Can personal property become private property?

Personal property can become private property if it is acquired by an individual or entity and used as private property. For example, if someone purchases a car, it becomes their private property.

Is all private property considered personal property?

Yes, all private property can be considered personal property, as personal property is a subset of private property. However, not all personal property is private property, as personal property can also include items that are not privately owned, such as rented or borrowed items.

Are there any restrictions on private property ownership?

While private property is generally protected under the law, there may be certain restrictions imposed by zoning regulations, building codes, environmental regulations, and other laws that govern land use and property development.

Can the government take private property?

In some cases, the government may exercise the power of eminent domain, which allows them to take private property for public use. However, this process typically involves fair compensation to the property owner.

How is personal property different from real property?

Personal property refers to movable possessions, while real property (also known as real estate) refers to land and any permanent structures attached to it, such as buildings or houses.

Are personal property and private property protected by law?

Both personal property and private property are protected under the law. The exact legal protections may vary depending on the jurisdiction and applicable laws.

Can You Legally Live In A Commercial Property?

You cannot live in a property that is zoned as a commercial property. Zoning laws in places like the United States are pretty strict. They usually fall under the state and also county and municipality jurisdictions. To legally live in commercial property and to make that property your residence, it should be lawfully zoned as residential property or what is known as a mixed zone property.

By clicking here, you can read more about Can You Legally Live In A Commercial Property?

Real Estate Agent Showing Property Without A State License

A Real Estate agent or broker cannot sell or transact a real estate deal for commission or sales in a state they are not licensed. To do so could mean that they could be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, which could even include time in prison.

By clicking here, you can read more about Real Estate Agent Showing Property Without A State License.

Anita Hummel
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