Immovable Property

Immovable Property
Immovable Property
Quick Summary of Immovable Property

An immovable property is an immovable object, an item of property that cannot be moved. In the United States, it is also commercially and legally known as real estate, and in Britain as property. It is known by other terms in other countries around the world.

Immovable property includes premises, property rights (for example, inheritable building rights), houses, land, and associated goods and services if they are located at or have a fixed address.

In much of the world’s civil law systems (based as they are on Romano-Germanic law, which is also known as civil law or Continental law), immovable property is the equivalent of “real property”; it is land or any permanent feature or structure above or below the surface.

To describe it in more detail, immovable property includes land, buildings, hereditary allowances, rights to way, lights, ferries, fisheries, or any other benefit that arises out of land, and things attached to the earth or permanently fastened to anything that is attached to the earth. It does not include standing timber, growing crops, or grass. It includes the right to collect rent, life interest in the income of the immovable property, a right of way, a fishery, or a lease of land.

Other sources describe immovable property as “any land or any building or part of a building, and includes, where any land or any building or part of a building is to be transferred together with any machinery, plant, furniture, fittings, or other things, such machinery, plant, furniture, fittings, and other things also. Any rights in or with respect to any land or any building or part of a building (whether or not including any machinery, plant, furniture, fittings, or other things therein) which has been constructed or which is to be constructed, accruing or arising from any transaction (whether by way of becoming a member of, or acquiring shares in, a co-operative society, or other association of persons, or by way of any agreement or any arrangement of whatever nature, not being a transaction by way of sale, exchange, or lease of such land, building, or part of a building)

Immovable property cannot be altered, remodelled, added to, or reconstructed without entering into an agreement with and getting permission from its owner. Also, the owner of immovable property may not be involved in constructing an addition or remodelling without obtaining permits from his local authority.

Any legally, reasonably, and physically immovable property or object that can be moved or destroyed by an irresistible force, such as an object falling from the sky or from another planet or a large meteorite colliding with Earth,.

Also, a property or an object that can be moved by destroying it would be considered a “destructible property” rather than an “immovable property.”. Legally and actually, a house with land under it can not be moved without destroying it or taking it into pieces, since immovable property also includes the geo-location of the property, which is unique and therefore can not be moved by any force on the planet.

“Immovable” means moving in one piece, intact, without doing any damage to the object of property, not taking it apart. And although Earth is constantly moving by turning around on its axis and flying around the Sun in space (our Galaxy is also on the move), “immovable property” is considered attached (“stuck”) to the soil, to the solid ground of the planet Earth, that it stands on and is not only attached by construction materials and by Earth’s gravitational force but also legally attached by ownership laws and the above-mentioned geographical coordinate.

What is the dictionary definition of Immovable Property?
Dictionary Definition of Immovable Property

In all civil law systems, immovable property is the equivalent of “real property” in common law systems, i.e., land or any permanent feature or structure above or below the surface.

In the United States, immovable property is any immovable object, real estate, or item of property that can not be moved. Includes premises and property rights (for example, heritable building rights), houses, land and associated goods and chattels.

They are located in and have a fixed address.

Full Definition Of Immovable Property

Immovable property, often referred to as real property or real estate, constitutes a foundational element of the legal and economic framework in the United Kingdom. This legal overview provides a comprehensive examination of the concept of immovable property, its classifications, ownership rights, and the regulatory framework governing it in the UK. This overview aims to elucidate the legal intricacies surrounding immovable property and provide a clear understanding of its implications for individuals and entities involved in property transactions.

Definition and Classification

Immovable property, by definition, encompasses land and any permanent structures affixed to it, such as buildings. It is distinguished from movable property, which includes personal belongings that can be transported. Immovable property is further categorised into freehold and leasehold estates, each with distinct legal characteristics and implications.

Freehold Estates

A freehold estate represents the most comprehensive form of property ownership, where the owner possesses the land and any structures on it indefinitely. Freehold ownership confers extensive rights, including the right to use, lease, or sell the property. The two primary types of freehold estates are:

  1. Fee Simple Absolute in Possession: This is the most common form of freehold estate, granting the owner full ownership rights without any conditions or limitations.
  2. Life Estate: This grants ownership rights for the duration of an individual’s life, after which the property reverts to another party, as specified in the deed.

Leasehold Estates

Leasehold estates involve the granting of property rights for a specified period under the terms of a lease agreement. The lessee (tenant) holds the right to use the property for the duration of the lease, while the lessor (landlord) retains ultimate ownership. Leasehold estates are prevalent in urban areas and are characterised by the following types:

  1. Term of Years Absolute: A lease for a fixed period, commonly ranging from short-term tenancies to long leases of 99 or even 999 years.
  2. Periodic Tenancy: A lease that continues for successive periods (weekly, monthly, yearly) until terminated by either party.

Ownership Rights and Interests

Ownership of immovable property encompasses a bundle of rights that can be exercised or transferred separately. These rights include:

  1. Right of Possession: The right to occupy and use the property.
  2. Right of Control: The right to determine how the property is used within legal limits.
  3. Right of Exclusion: The right to deny others access to the property.
  4. Right of Enjoyment: The right to enjoy the property in any lawful manner.
  5. Right of Disposition: The right to sell, lease, or transfer ownership of the property.

Legal Framework Governing Immovable Property

The legal framework governing immovable property in the UK is multifaceted, encompassing statutory provisions, common law principles, and regulatory oversight. Key legislative instruments include the Law of Property Act 1925, the Land Registration Act 2002, and the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993.

Law of Property Act 1925

The Law of Property Act 1925 (LPA 1925) is a cornerstone of property law in the UK, consolidating and modernising previous statutes. It provides a comprehensive framework for the creation, transfer, and management of property interests. Key provisions include:

  1. Conveyancing Procedures: The LPA 1925 simplifies the conveyancing process, ensuring the transfer of property rights is efficient and secure.
  2. Trusts of Land: The Act regulates trusts of land, ensuring that trustees act in the best interests of beneficiaries.
  3. Easements and Covenants: It governs the creation and enforcement of easements (rights of way) and covenants (restrictions on land use).

Land Registration Act 2002

The Land Registration Act 2002 (LRA 2002) revolutionised the system of land registration in the UK, enhancing transparency and security of property transactions. Key features include:

  1. Compulsory Registration: The LRA 2002 mandates the registration of land transactions, ensuring an accurate and up-to-date public record of property ownership.
  2. Title Guarantee: Registered titles provide a state-backed guarantee of ownership, reducing the risk of disputes and fraud.
  3. Electronic Conveyancing: The Act facilitates electronic conveyancing, streamlining the transfer process and reducing administrative burdens.

Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993

The Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 empowers leaseholders with rights to enfranchise (purchase the freehold) or extend their leases. This legislation addresses the imbalance of power between landlords and tenants, promoting fairer and more equitable property dealings. Key provisions include:

  1. Lease Extension: Leaseholders of flats have the right to extend their lease by 90 years, on top of the unexpired term, at a nominal ground rent.
  2. Collective Enfranchisement: Leaseholders of flats can collectively purchase the freehold of their building, subject to certain conditions and procedures.

Transfer of Immovable Property

The transfer of immovable property involves a series of legal and administrative steps to ensure the lawful conveyance of ownership. The process typically includes:

  1. Pre-Contract Stage: Includes negotiations, property searches, and the preparation of a draft contract.
  2. Exchange of Contracts: The buyer and seller exchange signed contracts, and a deposit is paid. At this point, the agreement becomes legally binding.
  3. Completion: The balance of the purchase price is paid, and the buyer takes possession of the property.
  4. Registration: The transfer is registered with the Land Registry, updating the public record of ownership.

Rights and Obligations of Property Owners

Property ownership entails a range of rights and obligations, including compliance with planning regulations, property taxes, and maintenance responsibilities. Owners must adhere to local planning laws, which regulate land use, building standards, and development projects.

Planning Permission

Planning permission is required for significant changes to property use or structural alterations. The local planning authority evaluates applications to ensure compliance with zoning laws and development plans. Unauthorised alterations can result in enforcement actions and potential penalties.

Property Taxes

Property owners are subject to various taxes, including:

  1. Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT): A tax on property transactions, payable by the buyer.
  2. Council Tax: A local tax based on property value, used to fund community services.
  3. Capital Gains Tax (CGT): A tax on the profit made from selling a property that is not the owner’s primary residence.

Dispute Resolution

Disputes related to immovable property can arise from boundary issues, lease disagreements, or breaches of covenants. Resolution mechanisms include negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and litigation.

Boundary Disputes

Boundary disputes involve disagreements over the precise limits of property ownership. These disputes can often be resolved through negotiation or mediation but may require legal adjudication if parties cannot reach an agreement.

Lease Disputes

Lease disputes commonly involve issues such as rent arrears, maintenance responsibilities, or breaches of lease terms. The Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) provides a forum for resolving such disputes, offering a cost-effective alternative to court proceedings.


Immovable property law in the United Kingdom is a complex and multifaceted area, encompassing a wide range of legal principles, statutory provisions, and regulatory frameworks. Understanding the nuances of property ownership, rights, and obligations is essential for individuals and entities engaged in property transactions. By providing a comprehensive legal overview, this guide aims to elucidate the key aspects of immovable property law, promoting informed decision-making and compliance with legal requirements.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 9th June 2024.

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