Real Estate Terms Dictionary

Air Rights

Definition of 'Air Rights'

According to, air rights refer to the "right to control, occupy, or use the vertical space (air space) above a property, subject to necessary and reasonable use by neighbor(s) and others (such as aircraft)".

What do Air Rights mean for home buyers and sellers:

When buying a building, the owner gains the right not only over the land beneath, but also over the empty space above the building, within certain limits depending on the Zoning District. This is important especially for a developer, as the aerial space can have a great development potential. To illustrate, if you buy a one-story property but you have the right to build five stories, the difference of four stories can still be used for future development projects. Just like any other surface rights, air rights can be bought, leased or sold; they can act as a price booster when selling a property.


Here's a real-life example from one of the properties researched on PropertyShark:

Air rights - example



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The glossary is intended to provide real estate professionals and home buyers with a basic understanding of various specialized terms related to legal rights over a property. All terms appear in public records such as ACRIS. We do not take responsibility for the legal accuracy of the definitions provided and ask that use of these explanations in a legal setting be made only after checking with a lawyer or another specialist in the field.