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An emphyteusis[1] is a real right (right in rem), susceptible of assignment and of descent, charged on productive real estate, the right being coupled with the enjoyment of the property on condition of taking care of the estate and paying taxes, and sometimes the payment of a small rent.

Akin to a system of serfdom, this practice emerged in some South American colonies during the time of colonization. Based on Roman law, the Spanish preserved it and brought it to the colonies. Of Roman origin, the practice of emphyteusis appeared in the early empire and was initially granted by the state for agricultural purposes, or for building on land.

Such a lease involves the disbursement of a usufruct, and abusus to an emphyteutic lessee, and typically includes:

  • An immovable;
  • Right to make full use of immovable;
  • A term stipulated in the agreement; and
  • Obligation to make improvements that durably increase the value of the land, which will belong to land owner at the end of emphyteusis.

Emphyteusis is typically created for a term of 10 – 100 years. When an emphyteutic lease ends, the owner regains real rights of usus, abusus, and fructus to the immovable.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ From Greek ἐμφύτευσις "an implanting".