In real estate law, real property (also known as realty, real estate, or immovable property) refers to property that is intrinsically linked to land. It also includes buildings, machines, and equipment attached to the land. In the United States, each State (with the notable exception of Louisiana) regulates and legally protects real estate primarily through common law and real estate law.
The common law and real estate law regulate the liability of an owner in regards to the safety of a third person party on their property. Within the common law, there are three different types of third parties that can be found on land. The liabilities associated for a landowner vary greatly depending on the status of the third person party. Contact real estate lawyers for legal advice and assistance.
A trespasser is defined in common law as a third person party that enters a property without the knowledge or invitation of a landowner for personal purposes. Landowners typically have no duty to warn adult trespassers of dangers on a property or to make their property safe for adult trespassers. Although the duty is lighter than for a licensee or an invitee, a landowner is responsible to ensure the safety of the property if the owner believes trespassers could be on the property, especially in the case of children.
In the case of child trespassers, the owner is held to a higher standard in protecting the child from harm by ensuring the safety the property. Properties that might boast features that would attract child trespassers, such as ponds or pools, are often required to ensure the safety of their property to a higher degree.
A licensee is defined in common law as a third person party that is invited on to and remains on a property for any reason other than a commercial or business reason. Thus, a guest would be a licensee, and not an invitee. Licensees are protected more than trespassers, and the landowner owes a higher degree of duty in maintaining the safety of a property and warning licensees of the dangers on a property.
Property owners are often found liable under real estate law and common law for damage or harm to a licensee or a licensee's property if the owner neglected to ensure the safety of a known danger on the property, failed to inform the licensee of the dangers on a property, or if a licensee did not have a reasonable understanding or notice of the dangers on a property.
An invitee is defined in common law as a third person party that is invited on to and remains on a property for business or commercial purposes that will benefit the owner of the property. These invitations could be either implicit or explicit. For example, "open" signs and open doors are both considered invitations for these purposes.
Invitees are protected with the highest regard and owners have the highest liability to this class of third person parties. If the risk of harm or damage for an invitee or an invitee's property is considered unreasonable and the unsafe conditions of the property are explicitly known and understood by the owner, the owner must protect the invitee from any harm or damage. Invitees can also be classified as public invitees in real estate law, where their presence is legitimized by the use of a land for a public purpose.