Qualified Fee land interest | Determinable Fee

A Qualified Fee land interest is

a fee interest limited, or modified in some way, so that the beneficiary may not hold the land forever. “A base or qualified fee is such a one as has a qualification subjoined thereto, and which must be determined whenever the qualification annexed to it is at an end”, 2 Bl Comm 109. A ‘qualified fee’ land interest or a ‘determinable fee‘ is a fee interest lqualified fee land interestike any other, in that it may last forever, but it has a limitation that was attached when the estate was granted, which if it occurs, will bring the estate to an end and transfer the right to possession of the land to another; for example, a fee granted for as long as the land is used for school purposes.

Although the terms ‘qualified’ and ‘determinable’ are synonymous when applied to a fee interest, the latter is preferred in English law. Similarly, … [read more in Real Estate Defined].

In the US, qualified fee land interest and

the terms ‘base fee’, ‘determinable fee’, ‘fee subject to an executory interest’, or ‘fee subject to a conditional limitation (all of which automatically come to an end if a specified event occurs and vest the fee in another) are used interchangeably (31 C.J.S., Estates (St. Paul, MN), § 13). Thus, a qualified fee may be defined as “an estate in fee simple which automatically expires upon the occurrence of a given event [4 Thompson on Real Property, § 2171, p. 708 (1940)] …”, Lehigh Valley R.R. Co. v. Chapman, 35 NJ 177, 171 A.2d 653, 657 (1961) (4 Kent’s Comm 9; King County v. Hanson Inv. Co., 34 Wash.2d 112, 208 P.2d 117 (1949); 31 C.J.S., Estates (St. Paul, MN), § 14). (Qualified Fee land interest)

“‘Whenever a fee is so qualified as to be made to determine, or liable to be determined, at the happening of some contingent event or act, the fee is said to be base, qualified, or determinable. There are four classes of such fees, viz., fee upon condition, fee upon limitation, a conditional limitation, and a fee conditional at common law’ Tiedeman, Real Property, p. 28, §§ 44, 271”, Tebow v. Dougherty, 205 Mo 315, 103 SW 985, 988 (1907) (4 Kent’s Comm 9; United States Pipe-Line Co. v. Delaware, 62 NJL 254, 41 A 759, 763 (1898)). (Qualified Fee land interest)

However, The American Law Institute, Restatement of Property (St. Paul, MN: 1936), Ch. 4, Introductory Note: Special Note, considers the use of the terms ‘base fee’, ‘conditional fee’, ‘qualified fee’ or ‘conditional limitation’ as undesirable in modern American law, preferring to refer to an estate so created as an estate in fee simple defeasible. When the term is used, a ‘qualified fee’ land interest may also be called a ‘modified fee’ or ‘qualified fee estate’.  Cf. absolute estate.  See also estate on condition, fee simple conditional, fee simple determinable, fee tail, qualified title(Eng). (Qualified Fee land interest)

Bibliographical references for Qualified Fee land interest:

28 Am.Jur.2d., Estates (Rochester, NY), § 26. (Qualified Fee land interest)
31 Cor.Jur.Sec., Estates (St. Paul, MN), § 14. (Qualified Fee land interest)

Megarry & Wade: The Law of Real Property (8th ed. London: 2012), §§ 3–062, 3–063 (qualified fee land interest).

Terms in bold including conditional fee estate,  determinable fee, estate on condition, fee simple determinable, fee tail, and qualified fee are defined and explained in Real Estate Defined Online.

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Read all about qualified fee interest in land and other forms of conditional or determinable fees, with multiple cross references and other sources for further research.

(Qualified Fee land interest)

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