Are Houses Private Property? Everything You Need To Know6 min read

Back in the day, ownership was attained by adding value to a property. For example, if a person cultivates a piece of land, domesticates some cattle, or tames a herd of wild horses, all that becomes private property.

Other theories appear from time to time in communist countries, where private ownership for individuals is discouraged. However, a group of people could come together and share the ownership of a commune.

There are many important perks that come with acquiring private property, and some obligations you should be aware of. 


Private property is everything that a person can own. This could be a house, a piece of land, a dog, an idea, or an iconic painting.

This idea is the basis of most thriving civilizations, as it’s what motivates a person to work and create. It’s hard to show enthusiasm if all the efforts of a person never amount to tangible gains.

Private property is also one of the best ways to invest short or long term. It’s how wealth is created and legacies made. Houses have always been among the private property items that people value the most.

What Does ‘Private Property’ Mean?

Private property is a legal term that identifies a person, a married couple, a commercial entity, or an organization as the owners and controllers of a property.

The owner, or owners, of that said property, typically have a deed that proves and documents that ownership. And based on that property right, they can accrue all the benefits associated with that property. No other party can declare any claims of any kind to that private property.

The only exception is the government confiscating specific types of private properties for public usage. This isn’t a random process though, and it happens only when a highway, bridge, or similar structure needs to pass through a privately owned property.

And even then, the government is under the obligation to explain the necessity of that action and reimburse the owners of that property.  

Private property is also characterized by the following rights:

●       The owners are free to use the property in any way they please, as long as they comply with the local laws and regulations.

●       The owners of private property can engage in any form of transaction of that property. They can sell it, rent it, or use it in any way they like. The rules and regulations are their only limitation here too.

●       The owners of private property can gift or donate their property as they please.

●       The owners of a certain private property can include it in their will so that another family member or friend can be the new owner.

●       The laws of inheritance apply to private properties. So even if the original owners do not leave a detailed will, the property is still retained within the family and passed along to the next of kin.

●       The government is bound to protect the private properties of individuals to the full extent of the law. Trespassers, thieves, vandalists, and all types of bad actors aren’t allowed to infringe on the rights of owners of private properties.

●       The owners of private properties have the right to defend their properties in every way within the jurisdiction of the law. 

●       Private properties often increase in value, but their selling price at the point of a transaction often depends on other factors for evaluation.

●       Private property is often subject to some form of taxation, so it’s best to stay up to date with these regulations. 

What Makes a Property Private?

The only way to make sure that a specific property is private is to obtain a legal document detailing its ownership.

This applies to all types of properties, whether that is tangible property, like land, or intangible property, like a brand name. Verbal claims, word of mouth, promises, or any similar deals are no proof at all of ownership.

Typically, in most of the Western world, private ownership is regulated through clear laws. Thus, taking possession of land, real estate, factories, machines, boats, or any other property is pretty much accessible to anyone.

The same applies to filing for a patent, publishing a book, launching a digital platform, or any other intangible property. It is still private and fully owned by a known individual.

What’s the Difference Between Property and Private Property?

Historically, ownership came about in one of two ways: developing wastelands into cities or conquering them through wars.

The struggles that surrounded land ownership, and the many wars that accompanied the attempts to possess these lands, were too impractical to go on infinitely. There had to be a more rational way to distribute wealth.

The Romans were pioneers in organizing property ownership. They were the first to develop the concept of dominium, which translates roughly to absolute ownership.

Following these efforts, important scholars like Thomas Hobbs and John Locke spend their lives formulating laws that specified the best ways to own and benefit from property.

The industrial revolution came with a new host of challenges, and the previous disputes that revolved around land ownership soon became far more complicated. Patents, trademarks, ideas, bonds, stocks, and a whole new complex world was forming.

Adam Smith was among the wisest voices of the time, and his theories on capital and private ownership are among the most prominent till our current times.

Check out this video on the difference between personal and private property:

What Is Property?

Property is any tangible or intangible item that can be owned, sold, rented, inherited, or benefited from in any way. This includes land, real estate, trademarks, patents, precious metals, and a host of other items with inherent value. 

Property can be controlled by governmental bodies, organizations, commercial entities, or individuals. Generally, people regard property as either public or private.

What Is Private Property?

Private property is a concept that’s been debated since the times of Plato and Aristotle. There was always an ongoing discussion about what makes a person the sole and legitimate owner of anything.

The laws differ between countries and even states. But, generally speaking, private property is anything you own through a financial transaction, inheritance, grant, or creation.

Thus, in most places, the wasteland that you develop is yours, once you lay a legal claim on it. The device you invent is your private property, as soon as you get the patent for it. The music, book, film, or any other creative work you do, is your private property, within the terms of the contracts you negotiate.

Private property also covers personal property. These are mostly your personal belongings. For example, you might rent a house, then plant some trees in the property, and a few plants in pots. When you leave, you can take the potted plants, but not the trees.

You can also take your clothes, books, jewelry, photographs, or any other items that are considered personal belongings. These are automatically private property.

What Are Property Rights?

Property documentation gives immediate rights to the owners. Thus, if you buy a house you can renovate it, change the landscaping around it, sell it, rent it, or grant it to anyone you like. You can benefit from it financially and leave it as an inheritance.

Additionally, you have the right to protect it or ask the authorities to fend off any trespassers. There are many rights that come with property ownership, which is the main reason people decide to own instead of renting property.  

Is There Any Property that Can’t Be Owned

Communal properties like air, rivers, seas, oceans, mountains, trails, and so on, aren’t up for sale to anyone.

Also, illegal materials, smuggled drugs, confiscated items, relics, archaeological artifacts, and anthropological heritages aren’t up for market transaction.

Why Does It Matter if My House Is Private Property?

A house that is legally documented as private property automatically grants its owner many perks and privileges.

The first is that the owner has the sole opinion in the usage of the house. Houseowners can live in it, rent it, renovate it, sell it, or use it as a vacation home. The interior decorations, landscaping, arboring, and any other modifications are also totally up to the owners.

Additionally, it’s an ongoing investment that extends beyond the lifetime of the owner to the immediate family members. It’s a legacy that passes from one generation to the next. Also, a surefire way to create and accumulate wealth.

The rights of private property are also an amazing privilege for house owners. They are entitled to protect their property within the bounds of law. And the government is also committed to safeguarding private property in every possible way. 

Aside from the numerous perks, there are a few legal and financial obligations house owners are committed to.

Proof of ownership and legal ways of possession are the most important aspects of having a house declared as private property. Owners have a responsibility of verifying that any real estate is free from previous disputes and is actually available for purchase.

Private ownership of a house also means paying annual sums of money in taxes, repairs, maintenance, and various other costs.

This is among the main reasons why some people opt for living in apartments instead. It removes many financial obligations. Many others gladly pay their dues and enjoy the perks of being house owners.

Are Driveways Private Property?


Driveways are the little paved mini-roads that branch off the main streets into houses. They often end up in garages, front yards, or the main entrances of grand mansions.

Some driveways are extremely short and barely capable of housing a parked car. While others are long affairs that extend for miles off the main road and into a sprawling property. Usually, these long winding driveways lead to farms, large facilities, or big houses.

Another factor that differentiates the various styles of driveways is whether or not there’s a gate installed on the driveway.

All kinds of driveways into houses are commonly perceived as private property. This isn’t always the case though, especially in legal terms.

Driveways that jut out of the main road and into a garage aren’t considered private property. Thus, intruders could stand there, and they wouldn’t be perceived as trespassers unless they venture into the garden or in other parts surrounding the house.

Gated driveways are treated differently though. The road ends where the gates close, and beyond that, the inner parts of the driveway are deemed private property.

Are Apartments Private Property?

Apartments aren’t stand-alone units like houses. They’re parts of a bigger entity that’s the building itself. Most often, there is a managing board for the apartment complex, and the owners aren’t completely free to do what they will in the place.

Additionally, there are many owners that share common spaces within that building. And these public areas aren’t under the direct control of a single individual. That’s why the question often arises as to whether an apartment is private property or not.

Apartments are definitely private properties. But they have far more stringent laws and limitations than houses.

An apartment owner can sell it, but sometimes renting it is forbidden. Another example that demonstrates a different type of restriction is the freedom to own pets, hold a party, or change the exterior decoration of the apartment.

In Conclusion

The laws governing the various types of properties differ between countries, and even within various states. It’s important to be well aware of all the applicable laws (and bylaws) before investing in or owning any property.

Houses top the list of private property items that most people like to have. That’s why a large number of renters consider living in an apartment for a transient period. Till they can realize their dream of owning a house. 

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Hi, I'm Ed, and I run BuildFanatic! I enjoy providing the best possible information on a range of home improvement topics.

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