What Is Police Power In Real Estate?


Police power in real estate

Land ownership comes with the inherent right to enjoy and control how the land is managed. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that a landowner can do whatever they want with the land. They are still beholden to the government powers of Police Power, Eminent Domain, Taxation, and Escheat.

A great way to remember these government powers is with the acronym PETE.

In this article, we are going to dive into Police Power.

Police Power is the government's inherent right under the constitution to enforce laws designed for public health, safety, morals, and general welfare.

Essentially, the government can enforce laws that affect a landowner's rights if it is for the good of the community. In reality, this is commonly seen in:

  • Zoning
  • Licensing requirements for real estate agents.
  • Rent control.
  • Pollution and environment control.

Another example of police power is the right for officials to damage or destroy property without compensation if necessary to protect the public interest. An example would be if you lived in a duplex, one of which is on fire, and they needed to get access to the roof. Firefighters are within their right to break into the unit that isn't burning without having to compensate the owner. The owner would then have to claim the damage back from their insurance.

More recently, precedence has been established that government power can have some control over the aesthetics of a property. This is seen in building codes and limitations placed on where advertising can be placed.

Police power isn't all-encompassing, but it is important to remember that it does put some limitations on real estate ownership.

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