Emblements

What Are Emblements?

Emblements are annual crops grown by a tenant on someone else's land. The crops are treated as the tenant's personal property and not the landowner's. If a tenant somehow loses possession of the land on which the crops grow, the tenant is still allowed to finish raising the crops and harvesting them. If the land passes to someone else because of the tenant's death, the crops pass to the tenant's heirs. If the crops are annual but do not require labor by the tenant, they are not considered emblements.

Key Takeaways

  • Emblements are annual crops grown by a tenant on another's land that are considered the personal property of the tenant.
  • If the land is sold or faces foreclosure, for example, the tenant is still allowed to finish raising the crops and harvesting them.
  • However, if the crops are annual but do not require labor by the tenant, they are not considered emblements.
  • In the event of the tenant's death, the crops legally pass to the tenant's heirs.
  • Emblements provide legal protection to tenant farmers in the advent of a change in the ownership of the property.

How Emblements Work

The ownership of crops is generally held by the landowner unless the land has been leased to a tenant. This is the case with emblements. Emblements are treated as personal property, meaning that they move with the tenant. Thus, crops that were planted by a tenant with the intent of harvesting are considered the personal property of the tenant even though the land belongs to someone else.

Emblements provide legal protection to tenant farmers who risk being negatively affected by changes concerning the ownership or financial situation of the property that they farm. For example, a farm may change hands or the property and land may face foreclosure. Emblements also come into play if the land passes to someone else because of the tenant’s death. In this case, the crops pass to the tenant’s heirs.

There are many situations in which the right to emblements would apply. For example, a farmer is renting a plot of land from a neighbor for several years in order to grow corn and soybeans. The lease is on a year-to-year basis and is automatically renewed each July.

In May, the neighbor informs the farmer that the lease will end that summer because the neighbor is planning to sell the property. The farmer retains the right to work on the land through fall when the crops are harvested.

Emblements can apply when buying or selling a home. For example, buyers may not be aware that crops grown on the property they are buying belong to someone else. 

Special Considerations

Emblements are also known as fructus industriales, meaning "crops produced by manual labor," as opposed to fructus naturales, or crops that grow naturally. Crops that are not harvested annually, or that do not require labor, are not considered emblements.

Emblements are considered common law and typically apply when a lease arrangement does not exist that spells out the relationship between the owner, the tenant, and the property.

For example, wild mushrooms that grow on land worked by a tenant farmer would not be considered emblements. Crops that are the annual product of perennial plants, such as apples and other fruits, are considered emblements only until the first harvest after the termination of the grower's tenancy. Additionally, if a grower's tenancy ends due to the tenant's own act, the right to emblements is forfeited.

What Are Emblements in Real Estate?

Emblements in real estate refer to the crops that are grown on a piece of land. These are crops that are grown through labor, such as wheat and corn, as opposed to crops that grow naturally on the land, such as trees and uncultivated mushrooms. These crops are the personal property of the tenant of the land (if the owner is a different person) and the tenant is entitled to the profits from these crops.

Are Emblements Considered Real Property?

Emblements are not considered real property, which is fixed property, such as land or a building. Emblements are considered personal property, in that they move with the tenant of the property. This means that the individual that labored the land is entitled to the harvest and its profits, regardless of what happens to the ownership of the land.

What Is Another Term for Emblements?

Another term for emblements is fructus industriales, which refers to crops produced manually by an individual, such as rye, wheat, and corn. This stands in contrast to fructus naturales, which are crops that grow naturally on land.