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What is a Chattel?

Updated on August 23, 2010

A chattel, in law, is a term used broadly to denote property. It is defined generally as including all kinds of property except real estate. It is more comprehensive than "goods," since it includes animate as well as inanimate objects. In addition, a chattel may be tangible or intangible; an example of an intangible chattel is a bare right, such as evidence of a debt (for example, an I O U). The owner of a chattel may mortgage it (use it as security for the payment of a debt or the performance of some other act). Tangible chattels often are subdivided into personal chattels and real chattels. Personal chattels, strictly speaking, are movable objects that the owner may carry about with him, such as household goods, jewels, or money. Generally, personal chattels include every type of property that is not annexed to the land and that lacks two essential characteristics of real estate- immobility and indeterminate duration. On the other hand, real chattels are property interests that arise out of, or are dependent on, real estate, such as leases.


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      Henrietta 2 years ago

      This is simply wrong, at least from the perspective of English and Jersey law. Chattels cannot be intangible property (such as an IOU) - such things would be better classified as choses in action or intangible personal property.

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      Ana 5 years ago

      Would a sketch book & diary/journal be considered as chattel? (Personal chattel?)