RUSTY FINCHER, Guest Columnist
You’re a new homeowner. You wear yourself out initialing multiple times per page on the never-ending sale agreement then proudly sign at the end and accept the keys to your new house. You’ve just gone into the biggest debt of your life, but couldn’t be more thrilled. It was probably explained to you during the process that you now have certain legal obligations. You have to pay property taxes, and perhaps property mortgage insurance or homeowners’ association dues.
But what rights come with those duties? What is it that you really own? You know you own the house and the land it sits on, within certain boundaries identified in your deed. But how far down into the ground do your ownership rights extend? And how far high into the sky?
It’s actually a complicated question without a complete answer (mostly because there isn’t too much fighting going on about how the space a couple hundred feet above your house is used). Anciently (dating back to the 13th century in Italy), the purchase of land could be described by a Latin maxim, cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos, which means, “whoever’s is the soil, it is theirs all the way to heaven and all the way to hell.” (This presumes that hell is within the earth, and heaven above it, neither of which have been conclusively proven.) The United States Supreme Court interpreted that to mean that land ownership extended in its upper bounds to “the periphery of the universe.” In geological, and more-practical terms, that meant you owned everything to the inner core of the earth below your property to the end of the atmosphere, or exosphere, above your property.
In real estate we are taught that fee simple ownership begins at a point in the center of the earth, traverses upward to the boundaries of your property and extends to the heavens.
As our rights and freedoms have been chiseled away since the origin of our country, the San Jacinto River Authority, Lone Star Groundwater Conservative District, and Texas Water Development Board leave deep chisel marks.
In the grand scheme of life, there are basic life supporting needs a human must have. The most important is consumption of oxygen. Without that we cannot pursue our second greatest need, WATER. These man made authorities have targeted our second most valuable human need.