ALTA Survey – Clearing Up Appurtenant Easement Confusion

August 02, 2017

With Optional Table A Item number 19 being redefined, there has been some confusion on appurtenant easement rights. In this blog post, we will provide clarity on this ALTA land survey requirement.

The 2016 ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey Minimum Standards amended Optional Table A Item 19 (formerly item 20 in the 2011 standards) to clarify the responsibilities in reporting information on easement parcels that are appurtenant or provide a benefit to the surveyed property. These easements are sometimes also referred to as off-site easements.

What Is the Confusion?

The confusion for the user is that an appurtenant easement right will not be addressed on the survey UNLESS Optional Table A Item 19 is negotiated and included in the scope of survey services. Including Optional Table A Item 19 alters HOW the easement parcel will be addressed. Appurtenant easement rights can be referenced within the Schedule A of the title commitment.

How Does This Affect ALTA Surveys?

Whether Optional Table A Item 19 is included or not, the surveyor’s responsibilities, according to the Minimum Standard Detail Requirements, Section 6.C.i, are as follows: the surveyor must show “the location, width and recording information of all plottable rights of way, easements and servitudes burdening AND benefitting the property surveyed, as evidenced by documents provided or obtained by the surveyor pursuant to Section 4.”

If the surveyor becomes aware of an appurtenant or beneficial easement by reviewing documents, it is their responsibility to show the location and the relationship to the surveyed property for any easement that is plottable. Therefor the surveyor will only indicate the boundary limits of the easement and will not perform any survey work to reconcile the boundary, actually survey the limits of the easement or show any improvements within.

What Does This Mean For Me?

If the transaction parties want to know more about what is transpiring within the easement limits, then Optional Table A item 19 should be negotiated and included. Item 19 requires the surveyor to survey the appurtenant easement parcel and include it within the limits of the survey. This makes it subject to the Minimum Standards and the negotiated Table A items for the fee parcel(s).

Unless title work is provided at the time of quoting a survey project, the surveyor is essentially unaware of the appurtenant easement rights that may benefit the fee parcel(s). Most surveyors will, understandably, take a qualification to their quote, making it subject to the surveyor’s review of any documents capturing the appurtenant easement right when the client requests Optional Table A Item 19, as the findings may significantly increase the scope of work. The appurtenant right may be, for example, to use a driveway on the adjoining property on a small strip of land 30’ x 200’ or an outparcel to a shopping mall might have the benefit of enjoying the entire 200-acre mall for ingress and egress, etc.

Lastly, when Optional Table A Item 19 is included, the client must pursue any necessary permission and provide the same to the surveyor to access the lands of the appurtenant easement. These easements are on the lands of others and even though the subject property has the right to use the land for a specific purpose, it does not give the surveyor permission to perform survey work.

At Bock & Clark, we are proud of our long history of supplying the commercial real estate industry with quality ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys. For more information on how we can assist you with your ALTA survey needs, request a quote today or contact us.