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OCCUPANCY Definition & Legal Meaning

Definition & Citations:

Occupancy is a mode of acquiring property by which a thing which belongs to nobody becomes the property of the person who took possession of it, with the intention of acquiring a right of ownership in it. Civ. Code La. art. 3412; Goddard v. Winchell, 86 Iowa, 71, 52 N. W. 1124, 17 L R. A. 788, 41 Am. St. Rep. 481. The taking possession of things which before belonged to nobody, with an intention of appropriating them to one’s own use. “Possession” and “occupancy,” when applied to land, are nearly synonymous terms, and may exist through a tenancy. Thus, occupancy of a homestead, such as will satisfy the statute, may be by means other than that of actual residence on the premises by the widow or child. Walters v. People, 21 111. 178. There is a use of the word in public-land laws, homestead laws, “occupying- claimant” laws, cases of landlord and tenant, and like connections, which seems to require the broader sense of possession, although there is, in most of these uses, a shade of meaning discarding any prior title as a foundation of right. Perhaps both uses or views may be harmonized, by saying that in jurisprudence occupancy or occupation is possession. presented independent of the idea of a chain of title, of any earlier owner. Or “occupancy” and “occupant” might be used for assuming property which has no owner, and “occupation” and “occupier” for the more general idea of possession. Judge Rouviere’s definitions seem partly founded on such a distinction, and there are indications of it in English usage. It does not appear generally drawn in American books. Abbott. In international law. The taking possession of a newly discovered or conquered country with the intention of holding and ruling it.


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