Property II Final Exam – Part I: “Frozen”

January 9th, 2019


Please write a memorandum of no more than 1,000 words addressing five property issues affecting Elsa and Anna on Iceacre and Sunacre. The courts in this jurisdiction apply all American common law rules, are bound by the United States Constitution, and all statutes of limitations are five years.

Question #1

Elsa and Anna live together on Castleacre, which is owned by their parents. Anna asks Elsa, “Do you want to build a snowman? Or ride our bike around the halls?” Elsa replied, “Sure!” However, Anna did not tell Elsa that their parents had prohibited building snowmen and riding bicycles on Castleacre. For the next five years, while their parents were traveling overseas, the sisters followed a precise schedule on Castleacre. On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, Anna would ride her bicycle, and Elsa would build snowmen. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, Ana would build snowmen, and Elsa would ride her bicycle. After five years, their parents returned and told Elsa and Anna to stop building snowmen and riding their bikes. The daughters refused. The parents then sought an injunction to block Elsa and Anna from building snowmen and riding their bikes on Castleacre. The daughters argued that they now have the right to take these actions.

  1. How should the court resolve this dispute?

Question #2

Subsequently, Elsa and Anna purchased Castleacre from their parents as tenants in common with a general warranty deed. However, their parents failed to disclose a very important fact: Castleacre was haunted by a spirit. Specifically, the ghost would transfer to Castleacre’s owner a magical power to create snow and ice. As they were signing the contract of sale, Elsa’s mother thought to herself, “Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.” Moments after closing, the spirit possessed Elsa. Elsa realized she now had this magical power, but had difficulty controlling it. “Put on a show,” she thought to herself. “Make one wrong move and everyone will know.”  However, one month later, she lost control of her powers, and she immediately froze over all of Castleacre. The Kingdom had a special land use ordinance, such that all residential properties must be heated in the winter to at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, Castleacre was far below that temperature.

Elsa and Anna sue their parents to rescind the contract of sale.

  1. How should the court resolve this dispute?

Question #3

Elsa uses her magical powers to create a living, breathing snowman named Olaf. Across the street from Castleacre is Sunacre. In the center of Sunacre is a tall building with a glass exterior. Every day at noon, the sun reflects off the building, and focuses a heat ray onto Castleacre. Olaf is happy about the heat ray. He sings, “Winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle. But put me in summer and I’ll be a—happy snowman!” One day, the heat ray hits Olaf, and partially melts him. Elsa sues the owner of Sunacre for a nuisance, and seeks an injunction to prevent Olaf from melting further.

  1. How should the court resolve this dispute?

Question #4

Soon, Elsa becomes Queen of the Kingdom. She is now in charge of the local government. Elsa remains furious at the owners of Sunacre, and unleashes her powers. She sang, “It’s time to see what I can do. To test the limits and break through. No right, no wrong, no rules for me. I’m free! Let it go, let it go!” First, she drops the temperature on Sunacre below zero, so the lake on the property freezes over. The owner of Sunacre fished on the lake for recreation. Second, she buries Sunacre under 6 inches of snow. Third, she adds a layer of frost to the exterior of the building to eliminate the reflected heat ray onto Castleacre.

The owner of Sunacre files suit against Elsa, and claims that her actions, as Queen of the Kingdom, constitute a taking, without just compensation, in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment.

  1. Discuss whether each of Elsa’s three actions violates the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Question #5

Often when the government regulates land use, it must allocate the benefits and burdens in an inconsistent fashion to different property owners. For example, following a storm, the government may decide that it must flood a small number of properties in order to prevent flooding a much larger number of properties.

  1. Discuss how courts should consider the balance of the benefits and burdens when deciding cases under the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause.