Louisiana Property: Possession vs. Ownership.

by Chris on June 9, 2012

In Louisiana there is a distinction between ownership and possession of real property. First, real estate is generally referred to as immovable property. There is no doubt that the discussion of what, when, and where property is immovable is subject to lengthy discussion that is not our focus today. All I am going to discuss for now is some of the general differences between ownership and possession. While many of the concepts referring to property may exist under different names and with slightly different rules in other states, we are only concerned with Louisiana.

Property is valuable. Historically, property in Louisiana has been viewed as a prized commodity. We are a port state, at the mouth of the Mississippi River, with rich and fertile lands, and a hearty climate for agriculture. Looking at an old map of the river you can see that the plots are divided into arpents. The reason these properties are in the shape of long skinny triangles, is to ensure that each property had access to water. Without water, property was useless in our early agrarian society.At a time when land use was a crucial part of life and survival, it was the actual use of that land and the resulting economic, social, and societal impact of such use that was most important, not simply the claim to ownership to that land.

Simply put, using land is in most instances coterminous with possession of land. Since possession trumps ownership our laws have designed an entire scheme of acquiring property solely by possession. Concepts such as adverse possession have been codified  in le droit civil, together with adverse possession, acquisitive prescription, and the governing time periods of ten or thirty years. All of this is an introduction to the concept of “just title and good faith” which is subject to the ten year time period. Coincidentally, a tax deed may form the basis for possession, and/or constitutes just title. While the maxim “possession is 9/10 of the law” is riddled with exceptions and rules, and has a practical application to tax sale properties. Expect more posts about this topic in the future.


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melissa March 11, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Redemption period has expired. Looking for next procedural step.

Chris March 11, 2013 at 2:38 PM

Email any paperwork you have, I can try and send you in the right direction.

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