photoIf the sounds of Christmas music bring feelings of goodwill toward all, family gatherings, Yuletide blessings, you’re not alone. Personally, I always make it an Elvis Christmas, rolling through the same ten Elvis songs for days at a time. Ho ho ho and thank you, thank you very much!

But let’s think of Santa, not just as a bringer of gifts, but as a user of property rights. After all, he lands on your roof. Get any permission for that, Mr. Claus?  What about the wear and tear to the roof?  If a typical adult male reindeer weighs 350 – 400 pounds, eight adult reindeer could weigh 2,800 – 3,200 pounds—over a ton.  Can your roof support that?  (This isn’t even including Rudolph, the sleigh, or Santa himself, who is no reed, weight-wise, according to a number of reports.)

Don’t forget that part of your bundle of sticks as a property owner also includes rights to the air above the footprint of your real estate.

Santa is a private operator, not a government agency, not yet anyway (the Department of Claus?), so he could only be liable for a “taking” if he has powers of condemnation, similar to those granted by the State to utilities, and is taking property for a public purpose. Since it’s the season of miracles, let’s just pretend that Santa does have powers of condemnation. Would he be liable for a taking? Well, he’s working for a public purpose of sorts (that whole goodwill/peace on Earth thing) and he is certainly making use of the rights of the property owners where he lands his sleigh. The damages could be relatively small since, as we all know, he goes straight to his work, which means his landing on the roof would only amount to a temporary taking at most.

He does bring gifts (and sometimes coal). So, he could offset the damage he has caused with those gifts and the coal (although the coal market is weak), but you’ll probably need a supplemental award in cash, as I am very concerned about the roof damage from the reindeer and sleigh.

Considering all of the above, see if he can subcontract to the USPS or a private delivery service using surface transportation to get presents to your door.

Seriously, Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year!