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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Barros on Homestead and Other Legal Protections of the Home

I've posted a short encyclopedia entry called Homestead and Other Legal Protections of the Home on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

In many legal contexts, homes are given more legal protection than other types of property. This additional protection can be divided into three categories. First, possessory rights in a home might be given more protection than possessory rights in another kind of property. For example, a legal system might make it more difficult for a creditor to force the sale a home to satisfy a debt than it would be for the creditor to force the sale of another type of property (say, a commercial office building) to satisfy that same debt. Second, a legal system might economically favor ownership or possession of a home over ownership or possession of another type of property. For example, ownership of a home might be subsidized where ownership of other types of property is not. Third, a home might be given special treatment when issues of privacy, freedom, or security are at stake. For example, a legal system might require the government to have a stronger justification for searching a home than is required for searching a commercial property.

This short encyclopedia entry focuses on the first category – those legal protections that give special protection to possessory rights in a home. It first elaborates on the distinction between rules favoring possession and the other two types of special legal protections given to homes. It then discusses various types of legal rules that give additional protection to possession of a home, including homestead rules favoring homeowners over creditors and tenure rules favoring renters over their landlords. Finally, it discusses theoretical issues related to the protection of possessory rights in homes, and considers open questions about whether this special protection is justified.

Ben Barros

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