Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Talmud on grounds for property ownership

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Does the Talmud Legalize Squatting? In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ putting limits on property rights.
Over the last several weeks, Daf Yomi readers have explored the Talmudic laws governing the possession of real property. The rule of thumb stated in Tractate Bava Batra is that anyone who makes use of a piece of property—such as a field or a house—for three consecutive years is presumed to be its legal owner. But this formula left open a question that I have been wondering about: Does it legalize squatting? That is, does mere possession qualify as legal ownership, or does the possessor also have to give a valid explanation for how he came to own the property in the first place? If not, then anyone who was stealthy or lucky enough to usurp a neighbor’s field for three years would gain title to it, which hardly seems fair.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.