Profit A Prendre: Emblements & Rights

Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

Sometimes people have a legal right to take stuff on land you own. In this lesson, you'll learn about profit a prendre and related concepts in the context of real property law. A short quiz follows the lesson.

Profit A Prendre Defined

A common metaphor used to explain property rights in land is that property rights are a bundle of sticks. Sometimes a property owner will own all the sticks in the bundle, but sometimes she'll hold just one. One such stick is called a profit a prendre.

A profit a prendre (French for 'right of taking') is a nonpossessory right that entitles one to go on the land of another and remove the soil or product of the soil from it. Oftentimes, you'll see this interest simply referred to as a profit. Note that a product of the soil includes things such as gravel, sand, minerals, crops, wild game on the land, fish in a body of water on the land, and timber.

Profit A Prendre - Appurtenant v. In Gross

A profit a prendre may be appurtenant or in gross. If the profit is appurtenant, it means the right is attached to a specific parcel of land. The land that receives or holds the benefit (here, the profit) is called the dominant tenement (sometimes called the dominant estate), while the land that is burdened by the benefit is called the servient tenement (or servient estate).

Remember that the servient tenement 'serves' the dominant tenement. For example, you may own property next to a stream. Your property may have a profit a prendre to fish the stream. As the owner of the property, you have the right to fish the stream. If you sell the property, then you lose the right and the new owner gets it because the right is transferred with the land.

If the right is held in gross, it means that it is held by the individual personally. In our example above, if profit a prendre was a profit a prendre in gross, you could still fish the stream after selling the adjacent property because the right belongs to you personally.


Generally speaking, under U.S. law, a profit a prendre can be created the same way an easement can. One common method is by an express grant or reservation. For example, you may deed a heavily forested property to another but reserve in the deed a profit a prendre to cut firewood. You should note that an express grant or reservation of a profit a prendre requires a signed writing under the Statute of Frauds.

A profit a prendre may sometimes be gained through prescription as well. In a nutshell, prescription is a legal doctrine that holds that if you make a specific use of the property of another that is (a) open and obvious, (b) continuous and uninterrupted; (c) adverse to the owner (i.e., without the owner's permission) and (d) for a period of time that is defined by the relevant state statute, you acquire the profit a prendre. For example, if you openly and continuously fished your neighbor's stream without his permission for the statutory period of time, you have acquired profit a prendre and you neighbor will not be able to stop you from fishing it.

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