What is Usufruct?

Legal Definition
Usufruct is a limited real right (or in rem right) found in civil-law and mixed jurisdictions that unites the two property interests of usus and fructus:

  • Usus (user) is the right to use or enjoy a thing possessed, directly and without altering it.
  • Fructus (fruit, in a figurative sense) is the right to derive profit from a thing possessed: for instance, by selling crops, leasing immovables or annexed movables, taxing for entry, and so on.

A usufruct is either granted in severalty or held in common ownership, as long as the property is not damaged or destroyed. The third civilian property interest is abusus (literally abuse), the right to alienate the thing possessed, either by consuming or destroying it (e.g. for profit), or by transferring it to someone else (e.g. sale, exchange, gift). Someone enjoying all three rights has full ownership.

In many usufructory property systems, such as the traditional ejido system in Mexico, individuals or groups may only acquire the usufruct of the property, not legal title. A usufruct is directly equatable to a common-law life estate except that a usufruct can be granted for a term shorter than the holder's lifetime (cestui que vie).
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
Civil law. The right of enjoying a thing, the property of which is vested in another, and to draw from the same all the profit, utility and advantage which it may produce, provided it be without altering the substance of the thing.

2. The obligation of not altering the substance of the thing, however, takes place only in the case of a complete usufruct.

3. Usufructs are of two kinds; perfect and imperfect. Perfect usufruct, which is of things which the usufructuary can enjoy without altering their substance, though their substance may be diminished or deteriorated naturally by time or by the use to which they are applied; as a house, a piece of land, animals, furniture and other movable effects. Imperfect or quasi usufruct, which is of things which would be useless to the usufructuary if be did not consume and expend them, or change the substance of them, as money, grain, liquors. Civ. Code of Louis. art. 525, et seq.; 1 Browne's Civ. Law, 184; Poth. Tr. du Douaire, n. 194; Ayl. Pand. 319; Poth. Pand. tom. 6, p. 91; Lecons El. du Dr. Civ. Rom. 414 Inst. lib. 2, t. 4; Dig. lib. 7, t. 1, 1. 1 Code, lib. 3, t. 33; 1 Bouv. Inst. Theolo. ps. 1, c. 1, art. 2, p. 76.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
In the civil law. The right of enjoying a thing, the property of which is vested in another, and to draw from the same all the profit, utility, and advantage which it may produce, provided it be without altering the substance of the thing. Civ. Code La. art. 533. And see Mulford v. Le Franc, 26 Cal. 102 ; Cartwright v. Cartwright, 18 Tex. 628; Strausse v. Sheriff, 43 La. Ann. 501, 9 South. 102.
See also
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary