Defining your ‘land’
What, exactly, is your land? The legal definition of land is wider than what is typically understood as land. It is more than just the actual earth beneath our feet within what we know to be the physical boundaries.
What constitutes your land in law, and therefore your property and land ownership, goes far beyond merely your house and garden and any outbuildings. It can include, for instance, running streams and overhanging trees branches.
Why is this important?
Sometimes it is important to understand the extent of your land because of things like potential boundary disputes. Land law is concerned with the ownership of land, and the rights, interests and obligations in, or over land; as well as the process by which ownership and those rights and obligations are created and transferred to others.
What is ‘land’ in law?
The statutory definition of land under section 205(1)(ix) of the Law of Property Act 1925 includes “land of any tenure, and mines and minerals … buildings or parts of buildings and other corporeal hereditaments; also … incorporeal hereditaments and an easement right privilege or benefit in over or derived from land”.
In plain English, ‘land’ means physical property (such as the soil and buildings which stand on it), as well as property which is intangible. This includes easements, ie. rights of way over someone else’s land as well as airspace above the land.
“Corporeal and incorporeal hereditaments” means ‘realty’ or ‘real property’ and is distinguishable from ‘personality’, ie. personal or movable property.
Corporeal hereditaments: these include land, buildings, minerals, trees, flowers, wild animals and all other things which are part of or affixed to land – in other words, the physical matter over which ownership is exercised.
Incorporeal hereditaments: these are not things but rights. Examples include easements, profits and rentcharges.
You also own, and have rights in the airspace above your property; however, these rights are limited. There are two types of airspace – the lower and upper stratums.
The lower stratum
This is the airspace immediately above/around the land. Interference with this air space would affect the landowner’s reasonable enjoyment of the land and the structures upon it. You can prevent people from interfering with or intruding on this airspace. For instance, projecting eaves or advertising signs, and tower cranes being used for construction work on neighbouring land but which swing across your airspace.
The higher stratum
This is the airspace which exists above the height which is reasonably acceptable and necessary for the ordinary use and enjoyment of the land by its owner – around 500 to 1000 feet above roof space level (Section 76 Civil Aviation Act 1982). Landowners have no greater rights to this airspace than any other member of the public.
For more information on:
- Trees, plants and flowers
- Wild animals
- Mines and minerals