Private Property, Public Property—The Differences Explained

Private property, public property, as well as collective property are all recognised as main forms of property. The types of possession therefore are called private ownership, public or state ownership, and collective ownership.

PRIVATE PROPERTY is possessed by individuals, business or legal entities. Private property can be controlled at the discretion of its owners. However, it can also be a subject of limitations and control by the state, which can charge taxes, nationalise or confiscate it, or use it. The rights to private property and its ownership can be transferred to other possessors.

COLLECTIVE PROPERTY, also existent as cooperative property, is possessed jointly though agreement by members of a group, such as non-governmental entities or society. Collective ownership therefore can be recognised as collective type group ownership, cooperative ownership, or society-wide ownership. Collective property or cooperative property both are a form of social property, with an economical purpose in the case of the latter, but it is not always the case with the former. Collectives are not always focused on the economical purpose of benefit and saving as cooperatives, however cooperatives also have a social side as well.

PUBLIC PROPERTY is either publicly owned as common property (as a commons), or state-owned as state property (held in trust by the government for the public benefit). Its possession, therefore, is recognised as public ownership. As such, public property is possessed by the members of a state as a whole, or by the state or governmental entities, and is publicly accessible and available for public use, or is government-provided. Although it is open to the public, it cannot always be used freely by the general public, or may only be provided to a certain part of the population, but not to all. Public property cannot be transferred, sold or granted at its owners’ discretion, and it is also usually not taxed or charged for to its users. Public property is a form of social property, which can be society wide, or community representative.

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