General Question

Nullo's avatar

How does one go about becoming the sovreign owner of a piece of land?

Asked by Nullo (21944points) September 30th, 2010

Someone once made the point that landowners are nevertheless effectively renters, since they must pay a property tax or else encounter trouble.
It got me to thinking: is it even possible for a person to wholly and unquestionably own his own plot, the way that nations do? If so, how?

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14 Answers

meiosis's avatar

Here in the UK at least, there is no such thing as a land tax. We pay property taxes based on the value of the buildings we inhabit, but none for the actual land. So, buy an empty plot of land, build nothing on it and run no business from it, and it’s yours free of financial obligations. You’re still not the sovereign owner, however, as the laws of the UK will still apply.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Buy a teeny, tiny island. Establish your own government, probably consisting of your family and perhaps a cook and a gardener (or maybe that’s just my fantasy… there’s a pool boy in there, too). Voila!

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

No, it is not possible.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Taxes are not like rent. If you own land outright (no mortgage) you could conceivably not pay taxes on it. However, tax liens are filed against the collection of taxes, and are considered a debt. The local government sues for collection of the debt and if not paid, the property is then sold at auction.

It could be argued that you wholly own your funeral plot after you take up residency, as you don’t have to pay taxes on that.

mammal's avatar

Firstly you would have to agree upon the term ownership, a legal, if not philosophically challenging undertaking, then seek universal approval of that concept as applied to you and the said piece of land. It would be an education, if only to expose the institute of private ownership as the bane of all humanity, based, i suspect, on tenuous, corrupt principles, made solemn in grand architecture by plodding bureaucrats and stuffy legal people and kept that way by paid thugs in uniforms with guns and implements with which to subdue people who don’t get the concept of private ownership.

everephebe's avatar

A revolt, or plenty of bloodshed? Ok, those options suck, fly into outspace and colonize the shit out some habitable planet. That land is yours, claim it, and keep your guard up. Good luck out there!

A more “earthly” choice, sail in international waters, and don’t get attacked by pirates.

CMaz's avatar

No. Because even if you establish some sort of “sovereign rights”.

Someone most likely owns the mineral rights below you.

wundayatta's avatar

Seems to me it’s possible to own your “own” piece of land. It’s just that ownership doesn’t mean you get to do anything you want on the land, nor does it mean society can’t ask you to pay for the right of land ownership, and take the land away from you if you refuse to pay for this right.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

It’s not impossible, of course. As you point out, nations do it.

So theoretically and on that basis, so could you. That’s what makes it impractical. You’re not about to wrest any part of Missouri away from the United States to claim sovereign status (been tried before, as you know, and on a much larger scale—disastrous results re-enacted yearly). So that leaves other and less-powerful or less mindful nations where you could “sneak” some property away from their control.

Good luck finding that place.

Alternatively, you may yet discover the as-yet-undiscovered island in the middle of the ocean somewhere and claim it. Note that it would have to be outside of the territorial limits of any extant government (which makes the South China Sea unlikely, for example, as well as much of the rest of the South Pacific).

Then there’s always the time-honored national custom of just taking it from whoever already owns it. The problems that this tack presents are not insignificant: The United Nations tends to frown on this, and unless you have a supply of atomic weaponry and delivery systems and the means to protect them (or a Dr. No type death ray or equivalent), then a relatively small force would re-establish the “rightful owner” of the place to them.

It may be possible to purchase sovereign rights from an existing government, or to buy such a government outright. After all, that’s pretty much how the Sultan of Brunei rules, isn’t it?

If there’s blood involved, then you really have to watch out for the UN. And if you’re a US citizen I think you’re pretty much S.O.L. anyway, because as far as I know you’d have to renounce your US citizenship in order to be a sovereign somewhere else.

YARNLADY's avatar

Even if you could, without the protection that you pay for with your taxes, what would keep someone else from just taking it away from you? As mentioned above, you couldn’t build on it, and no streets, water, electricity, fire/police protection would be available to you – they are all paid for by taxes.

ragingloli's avatar

A small group of people once owned a small island off the British Islands and set up a sovereign state on it. Recognised as such and with their own government and all that. They used it to host their file sharing servers.
A few years later they were stormed by Royal Marines.

Here is the lesson to be learned: You can have your own sovereign state, but if you dare to go against the capitalist imperium, and do not have the military to protect you from them, they will come for you and destroy you, because capitalism controls other governments and their militaries.

Death to capitalism.

perspicacious's avatar

In the USA an individual will never be the sovereign owner of land. They may be the legal owner which equates to renting from the government. If you do not pay property tax the government takes the land. If you own land your use and enjoyment of it must fall with the uses which are deemed appropriate according to law.

meiosis's avatar

@ragingloli Are you referring to Sealand ? If so, then it’s still going strong. It was the forces of anarchy, not capitalism, that launched an attack on it. Indeed, the British capitalist state has provided emergency rescue services on occasion.

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