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Usufruct is a legal term that refers to the right to enjoy the use and advantages of another’s property short of destroying or depleting its substance. The individual who holds the usufruct, known as the usufructuary, has the right to use the property, take any fruits or income produced by it, but cannot sell or damage it. The usufruct is often held for a specified period or for the rest of the usufructuary’s life.


The phonetic spelling of “Usufruct” is /ˈjuːzjʊˌfrʌkt/

Key Takeaways

• Main Takeaways about Usufruct.

  1. Usufruct Definition: Usufruct is a legal right granted to a person or party that confers the temporary right to use and derive income or benefit from someone else’s property. The person who holds this right does not own the property and hence, cannot damage or destroy it.
  2. Usufruct Lifespan: Usufruct is typically given for a certain period, often for the life of the person who holds right (known as the usufructuary). After this period, the rights over the property return to the owner or to a person stipulated in the agreement.
  3. Usufruct in Civil Law: Usufruct is commonly used in civil law countries like France and Spain. It’s a flexible agreement that can be adapted based on the needs of the property owner and the usufructuary. It can be used for all types of property, from land and buildings to intellectual or personal property.


Usufruct is a crucial term in business/finance as it provides a legal right that allows a party to use and derive income or benefit from a property belonging to another, as long as the property is not damaged or altered in any significant way. This term is essential in estate planning and property transfers, as it significantly affects ownership rights, responsibilities, and financial implications for both the property owner and the usufructuary. Usufruct arrangements can lead to unique investment opportunities and tax implications, allowing the potential for productive asset use without full ownership. Hence, understanding its impact, limitations, and opportunities becomes important to make informed decisions in business and finance.


Usufruct serves a crucial role in property rights and finance, mainly through offering a compromise between absolute ownership and temporary usage. The fundamental purpose of this term is to allow an individual, known as the usufructuary, legal rights to benefit from a property owned by someone else, the naked owner. The benefactions could be in the form of living in a property, leasing it, harvesting agricultural produce, or profiting from its resources, without infringing on the legal ownership status of the original owner. Such an arrangement can provide a legal framework for maintaining valuable assets across generations or for limiting potential abuse or misuse of property resources. In the business realm, usufruct is utilized in many situations and transactions. For instance, it may facilitate the process of securing a loan where one party, usually the bank, might hold the usufruct rights over an individual’s property until the loan is fully repaid. Similarly, some businesses might grant usufruct rights over their assets in return for specific services or to raise capital. Consequently, it can significantly influence commercial relationships, business plans, and financial strategies, considering its potential implications on asset value, income flow, and risk management.


1. Property Lease: A common example of usufruct in business is when one party owns a property (landlord) but gives another party the right to use it (tenant) under certain conditions (as outlined in a lease agreement). Here, the landlord is the naked owner while the tenant holds the usufruct rights. The tenant can benefit from the property, e.g. live in it, run a business in it, or even rent it out again (depending upon the lease agreement), but must also take care of the property and return it to the owner in reasonably the same condition, minus normal wear and tear, at the end of the lease term.2. Timber Rights: In the logging industry, a company may acquire the usufruct rights to cut down trees in a specific forest area owned by someone else or by the government. This means that though the company doesn’t own the land, it can profit from the timber. On the other hand, the company is often required to engage in certain reforestation efforts to maintain the viability of the plot for future use.3. Natural Resource Extraction: In oil or mineral industries, a company could hold the usufruct rights for extraction on a piece of land or an offshore region. It means the company can extract and sell the oil or minerals, hence benefiting from the land or offshore, without owning it. There may be stipulations regarding reclamation of the area after extraction activities are done, to ensure the land or offshore can continue to be useful afterward.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What does ‘Usufruct’ mean in business or finance?

Usufruct is a legal term originating from civil law which refers to the right to enjoy the use and advantages of another’s property short of the destruction or waste of its substance.

In what context is ‘Usufruct’ generally used?

Usufruct is mainly used in real estate transactions, but can also be applicable in other business areas where an individual or entity benefits from assets owned by someone else.

Is ‘Usufruct’ the same as owning a property?

No, usufruct grants the right to use and enjoy the property, but does not confer ownership. The person with usufruct rights can use the property and its benefits but cannot sell or damage it.

How long does ‘Usufruct’ last?

The duration of usufruct can vary. It can be established for a certain time, life of the individual, or until a specific event occurs.

Can Usufruct rights be transferred to another person?

Usufruct rights are typically non-transferrable. However, the specific terms can vary based on the agreement and local laws.

What happens when the ‘Usufruct’ period ends?

Once the usufruct period ends, full rights to the property return to the owner or passed onto the designated person if the original owner has died.

Can a person with ‘Usufruct’ rights make changes to a property?

It largely depends on the terms of the agreement. Usually, the person with usufruct rights can make minor changes that will benefit or improve the property, but any major changes that may affect the property’s value would require the owner’s permission.

Related Finance Terms

  • Natural Fructus: This refers to the fruits or profits made naturally, without human interference like crops, honey, etc. in the context of usufruct.
  • Legal Fructus: This involves the fruits or profits derived from the right of usufruct due to human enterprise, such as rent and dividends etc.
  • Naked Ownership: This term is used to describe the ownership rights of a person who has the right to sell a property but not to use it or earn profits from it, which are enjoyed by the usufructuary.
  • Usufructuary: This refers to the individual or entity that holds the right of usufruct. They effectively have legal possession of the assets, forest land, building etc., and enjoy the benefits derived from such assets but do not own them.
  • Temporary Usufruct: This term means that the right of usufruct is limited for a certain period, and upon its expiry, the right of usufruct is extinguished.

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