The State University of New York
School of Law
Property 1
Law 507
Prof. Errol Meidinger
Instructor Homepage Email
Fall Semester, 2005


For our first meeting on Tuesday, September 6 (11:30-1:00, Room 108), please read and reflect on the case of Johnson v. M'Intosh and the related materials on pages 3 through 19 of the text. Be prepared to discuss the facts, analysis, holding, underlying assumptions, and social implications of the decision.

Lunch Schedule


Lois Stutzman
718 O'Brian Hall;

Overview This course introduces many of the fundamental legal arrangements used to control and allocate valuable resources in the U.S. It is designed both to provide a critical understanding of important features of modern society and to serve as background for advanced courses dealing with land transactions and financing, environmental regulation, intellectual property, corporations, wealth transfers, and taxation. Modern institutions are presented in the context of the evolution of property law from the gradual break-up of the feudal system through the development of finance capitalism.

Text The primary text for the course is Jesse Dukeminier and James Krier, Property, 5th Edition, Aspen Publishers, 2002. Should you seek to buy a used copy of the book, be sure to get the 5th edition, since we will be working quite closely with the text and problems.

Readings We will read and discuss 20 to 30 and sometimes more pages per class session. You may often find it necessary to read the materials more than once, and it is important not to fall behind.  

Syllabus The syllabus below is intended to provide a strong framework to guide the progress of the course, but it is not a fixed contract, and is subject to change as the course proceeds. Any changes will be announced in class (typically at the end) and posted in the announcements section of this website. The printed syllabus below will be modified to reflect announced changes, and you should check it periodically as the class proceeds.  

Participation is important, both for you as an individual and for the class as a whole. You will be expected to take an active role in and contribute to the course. To do so, it will be important to complete and think about the assigned readings before each class session. Try to bring up questions or ideas during class discussions, or afterward if we don't address the issue in class. For the most part, we will rely on voluntary participation, but non-volunteers should expect to be called upon. 

Attendance is expected. If you will be absent from class, please notify me by email in advance, indicating the date and the reason for your absence.

Meeting Times The class will meet from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from 9:45 to 11:15 a.m.  Fridays, in Room 108 O'Brian. It will generally begin and end punctually. 

Seating Your seat on the first day of class will be your seat for the semester. I will circulate a seating chart the first day, and work with it thereafter. 

Lunches I will schedule a series of brown bag lunches in the first part of the semester. These are intended to allow me to get to know you better as individuals, and vice versa, and are entirely voluntary.  

Announcements will be made in class when possible, but will also be posted in the "announcements" page of this website. 

Final grades will be based primarily on a four hour, closed book, anonymously graded final examination. Exam grades are subject to upward adjustment for substantial and insightful class participation. Any adjustments will be made by the Registrar based on a predetermined formula and will result in changes of no more than one level (e.g., B to B+).

Tape Recording is permitted when you are ill or wish to use recordings for review, but not as a substitute for regular class attendance.

Syllabus (subject to change as the course proceeds)

Introduction to the Course

Tu. Sept. 6

Property Rights and Power

Text  3-19

Th. Sept. 8

Defining Property Rights


Tu. Sept. 13

Property Rights and Social Policy


Th. Sept. 15

Property Rights and Creativity


Neighbors in Space: Nuisance and Easement Law

Fr. Sept. 16

Introduction to Nuisance Law


Tu. Sept. 20

Nuisance Rights and Remedies


Th. Sept. 22

Types of Easements and Servitudes


Fr. Sept. 23

Prescriptive and Necessary Easements  


Tu. Sept. 27

Public Trust, Assignability 


Th. Sept. 29

Scope; Termination 


Fr. Sept. 30

Negative Interests, Running Covenants and Servitudes


Neighbors in Time: The Classical System of Estates

Th. Oct. 6

Introduction to Possessory Estates (do the problems)


Fr. Oct. 7

Life Estates


Tu. Oct. 11

Leaseholds and Defeasible Estates


Fr. Oct. 14

Introduction to Future Interests (work through the examples and problems)


Tu. Oct. 18

Future Interests in Transferees


Th. Oct. 20

The Trust; Intro to Limits on Future Interests. After class review problems at


Fr. Oct. 21

Rules Furthering Marketability


Tu. Oct 25
Th. Oct. 27
Fr. Oct. 28

The Rule Against Perpetuities. For Thursday work the problems at 


Joint Ownership

Tu. Nov. 1

Types of Co-ownership and Severance of Joint Tenancies


Th. Nov. 3

Relations Among Concurrent Owners


Fr. Nov. 4

Practice Exam (covering only the material on the system of estates)


 Tu. Nov. 8

Review Practice Exam


 Th. Nov. 10

Marital Interests


 Fri. Nov. 11

Termination by Divorce and Death


 Tu. Nov.15

Community Property; Domestic Partners


Introduction to Land Transactions

 Th. Nov. 17

The Basics (fyi: NY Property Condition Disclosure Statement)


 Fr. Nov. 18



Landlord and Tenant

Tu. Nov. 22

Introduction; Subleases and Assignments; Tenant Default

443-7; 482-90; 500-9 

Tu. Nov. 29

Tenants' Rights and Legal Reform


The “Takings” Question

Th. Dec. 1  

 Changing Rights


Fr. Dec. 2 

Changing Expectations

Metalclad case

© Errol Meidinger