How to hold land in allodium

Land held in allodium means absolute ownership without mortgages or liens. The state or sovereign is not entitled to tax the land and cannot claim it by eminent domain, by seizure for criminal activity or through reversion back to the state when no heir is identified. Only the owner can sell or transfer the property. Most governments do not recognise allodial ownership by individuals. The state of Nevada allowed limited allodial rights until 2005. Land grants to indigenous people, by the government of Australia, for example, can result in limited allodial ownership.

In 1998, Nevada passed legislation allowing allodial ownership of single-family homes where the owner lives on the premises. Property owners purchased allodial rights from the state in a lump sum or made payments. The state treasurer's office calculated the amount based on 5 per cent of the land's assessed value and the estimated amount of property tax due in the expected lifetime of the youngest property title-holder. Allodial ownership could be inherited. In 2005, the legislature banned new applications and rescinded authority to transfer allodial titles to heirs.

The High Court of Australia in 1992 rejected the legal concept of an empty continent prior to the arrival of European settlers and affirmed the right of the indigenous Meriam people to their traditional lands. The Native Title Act followed one year later to identify where indigenous people property rights exist and what to do about conflicting claims. The court in subsequent decisions ruled that native title can apply to a community or an individual and range in scope from simple access to exclusive possession.

After the U.S. won independence from Britain, the new federal government began transferring property to individuals via land patents. There is a school of legal thought in the United States that allodial rights can be obtained by documenting ownership back to the original land patent. However, the U.S. government has written restrictions on oil, mineral and road use into those patents ever since the first one was issued in 1788. The Bureau of Land Management offers an online tracking service to obtain land patents.

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About the Author

Joe Mapother began writing for newspapers in 1981 at the "Waltham News Tribune." He has worked for the "New Hampshire Union Leader," "European Stars & Stripes," Knight-Ridder Financial News and Bloomberg. Mapother studied journalism at Boston University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Maryland.

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