Hi. I'm Christine, and I love property law. (Kate is probably rolling her eyes right now. I might sometimes bug her about it. "But how can Isobel get into foreclosures? The bank still owns them. Does it have to be owned by a person? She still hasn't been invited in by anyone who has a right to be there in any capacity!" *insert Kate's groan*)
So as you might imagine, this week's episode made me VERY HAPPY. It answered a question I've been bugging Kate about since I started watching: who the hell owns the Salvatore Boardinghouse? The boys are dead, so they can't unless they've been wandering around compelling the appropriate authorities to give them legal documentation that makes them legally exist. It's also possible that Zach left them the house in his will, but no one knows he's dead, right? HOW DOES THAT WORK?
[Disclaimers: First, I know I'm being ridiculous. Just go with it. Second, I am not yet licensed so cannot give legal advice. Always seek qualified legal advice when transacting property transfers with your vampire boyfriends.]
Aaaaanyway, last Thursday on The Vampire Diaries:
Elena & Stefan: Blah blah dead mother blah.
Damon: Look! I have brought LEGAL DOCUMENTATION into the PLOT. *eyebrow action*
Stefan: Here -
Christine: Hold on. I need my smelling salts. *rustle, rustle* Right! Carry on.
Stefan: Here is the deed to our house, which is currently in Zach's name, but the script says we're pretending that we now own it.
~five minutes later~
Christine: Boys? Don't forget to file a gift tax return.
I think about the Vampire Invite Issue probably more than is healthy. I can't help myself. It's not unclear, really; it's just that I keep beating it down and beating it down, looking for an underlying pattern (nerd fun), and the show is a little inconsistent. (I love you, Show!)
Here's my issue in a nutshell: is it ownership or occupancy?
At first it seems to be merely occupancy. Jenna can invite vampires into the Gilbert house. Tyler invites Katherine into the Lockwood house (though I wonder if his mother inherited the house, or he did? Or some combination of both? Inquiring minds want to know.).
But last week John invited Isobel into the Gilbert house. As far as we know, John is just a guest at there. How does that work? I am assuming, since John once said that he was the estate's trustee, that the house is in trust for the kids, in which case the deed is probably in John's name as trustee. Jenna can live there with Jeremy and Elena, but she doesn't have any ownership interest in it, and Jeremy and Elena are beneficiaries of the trust but not, as of yet, owners of the trust property. If the invites work by occupancy, then sure, Jenna, Jeremy, and Elena should all be able to invite vampires in.
BUT. John doesn't live there, and he doesn't have any individual ownership interest in the house (that we know of- he could have some sort of contingent interest from his brother's will if Jeremy and Elena predecease him, but that's stretching kind of far even for me, isn't it?). But he can issue invites? Does this mean that guests can issue invites? Bonnie spends most of her time at the Gilbert place, too. Can she issue invites? If, on the other hand, the estate is not in trust, but John is only guardian of it (terminology is important, Show), then he has no ownership interest at all, in any capacity.
NOT TO MENTION that if John, who only has ownership in his role as trustee of the estate which actually owns the property, can invite people in, then why can Isobel get into foreclosures, which are also owned by a non-human entity? She's never invited in by a representative of the bank. Do banks not count?
Which brings me to apartments: apartments are still owned by someone. Sometimes it's a group of investors, but sometimes it's an individual. When an apartment is leased out, there's no real issue- traditionally the lessee (i.e. the person renting) has exclusive control over the space (though that can be changed by contract, and usually is). Certainly a person who is renting an apartment can issue invites, as they have some degree of control over the premises. (I'm still confused about why Logan couldn't get into his apartment after he turned, but we'll leave that alone.)
When the Manwitches die, Damon can get into their apartment, which is presumably owned by someone else, possibly even a business entity, like a bank in the case of foreclosures. So actually, I suppose that makes sense, as long as we're thinking about occupancy, not ownership.
BUT. This week two things happened to make me doubt that: Uncle John as mentioned above, and the boys giving Elena the deed to the house. If invites work as I suspect they do, Elena moving in to the house should be enough. Perhaps they're just taking every possible precaution. Perhaps I need a hobby. Who can say?
Thank you for bearing with me,
PS- I know I'm probably forgetting loads of examples. I did this from memory, because I'm supposed to be studying for finals, not watching TVD for a more informed essay. Bummer, right?
PPS- Stores and restaurants, while privately owned, are open to the public during certain advertised hours, which is an implied invite to everyone, presumably including handsome vampires who have run out of hoodies and black v-necks and need to go to the mall.
PPPS- Which brings me to another question: can invites be implied? If you say, "the party's through there" and point at the backyard, why doesn't that count? If it doesn't, then vampire law is fairly formalistic and relies on magic words, not just intent, which makes it EVEN MORE MYSTIFYING.
PPPPS- I also wonder why the boys didn't each give Elena, say, a 1/40 undivided interest in their house. They could use their annual exclusions AND get a minority interest discount AND she'd still have 100% right to occupy the whole house as a tenant-in-common, as long as she didn't try to prevent them from occupying the house also. I guess that wouldn't come across very well on screen.
PPPPPS- To the two of you who have gotten this far: I love you. Clearly we are meant to be friends.