Definition of "Statute"

Linda Miller real estate agent
Linda Miller, Real Estate Agent ERA Martin & Associates

The term statute is a written law that is adopted by a legislative body from the country, federal, state, county, or city level. The statute definition can be a legislative written decree (rule) stipulating prescribed action and conduct designed to be in the public's best interest. Laws may cover civil and criminal matters. Statutes can command, prohibit actions, set governmental mechanisms to help society, or declare policies that courts in specific situations then apply. 

What is a Statute?

The statute meaning is the development and elevation of a bill from a simple proposal to law. Before a statute is adopted, a legislator has to propose or sponsor a bill. Once the bill is approved by both houses of the legislature, it is signed by the president (federal) or governor (state) and becomes law. After a bill becomes law, the provisions within that law are called statutes. These are applied to the general public and must be adhered to under criminal and civil matters. This situation can be seen in what is happening with the proposal for Washington D.C. to become the 51st State.

Courts can impact statutes by creating laws that reverse the effect of that statute. If this happens, the court’s decision can be reversed by that court itself, by a higher court, or when another state or federal statute is passed overriding that decision. Courts also interpret the language of statutes as they are written in broad terms, based on the case they are judging. This can be done when the statute is too ambiguous, and courts have to interpret the context, grammar, and dictionary definitions of the words and phrases in the statutes.

Statute in Real Estate

Real estate transactions are ruled by federal, state, and local statutes and common law like any other transactions. State laws aren’t the same, and contracts used in the real estate industry, whether they are for purchasing a property, establishing a listing agreement between a seller and a real estate agent, follow these statutes and laws. State laws govern real estate agents and brokers. Still, the Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits real estate agents from discriminating based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in any real estate transaction.

Another example would be, the obligation for real estate property contracts to be in writing comes from the Statute of Frauds. Also, states impose special laws for an inheritance for real estate, meaning that in this case, the state is again the executive power responsible for the statutes that evolved in that law.

For more information, we suggest that you contact a real estate attorney or lawyer.


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