In the simplest possible terms, the concept of deeded land refers to when you own property by holding a corresponding legal document called a deed, but the concepts underlying ownership of deeded land are much deeper. When you own deeded land, the process by which you came to own that land goes back hundreds of years, and the rights you hold are very broad.
History of Deeds
The concept of deeds goes back to medieval England. Originally, land was transferred through a process known as the "livery of seisin." To transfer land that way, the seller would actually give a symbol of the land -- such as a rock, key or twig -- to the buyer and have people witness it. That act was referred to as a "deed." By the 16th century, English law changed to allow property title to be transferred by a written document. In a throwback to the actual deed that was conducted as a part of the livery of seisin, that document became known as a deed.
Deeds and Land
When you purchase or otherwise obtain deeded land, that deed represents the actual piece of property. When you look at the deed, it will usually contain a description of the property that it represents. While the deed may have a street address, it will usually have a legal description that describes the property relative to other properties, to landmarks, or to other legal documents, such as map books that describe property lines. The exact description allows your ownership of your deeded land to survive any changes to the surrounding area.
Owning Deeded Land
When you own deeded land, you control a "bundle of rights," in the parlance of real estate law. As the owner of deeded land, it's yours to enjoy without anyone else claiming ownership to it; if it's yours, it's yours. Ownership also conveys the right to use the property or not use it however you want, as long as you're following local laws. You also have the right to be on the property, be away from it, and let others in or keep them out. Owning the land also gives you the ability to sell it, to give it away, or to lease it out.
Deeded vs. Leased Land
While deeded land is a common way of owning property, it isn't the only way. Some properties are located on leased land. With these homes, you own your building, but the land is owned by another party who gives you the right to use it in exchange for rent payments. A manufactured home on a lot in a land-lease community is an example of this. Other examples can be found in places like Palm Springs, New York City and Hawaii. If you are considering purchasing a property on leased land, you won't be purchasing the same bundle of rights that you get with a deeded land property since the owner of the land holds onto those rights.
Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.