New and Modified Surveyor Responsibilities

Posted by Evolve September 10, 2021

Surveyor in a red sweater setting up surveyor equipment on a tripod.

With the adoption of the new 2021 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys, there have been several modifications and a new responsibility added to Section 6.C. - Easements, Servitudes, Rights of Way, Access, and Documents.

Modifications for Surveyors Added to Section 6.C. of the 2021 ALTA Land Title Survey

In Section 6.C.ii, requiring the land surveyor to provide a summary of these listed matters, a clarification has been added that limits the summary to survey-related items only. The land surveyor typically learns of these matters by reviewing the title evidence provided and, more specifically, items listed within the Schedule B II exceptions to a title report or commitment. Frequently these exception documents contain other matters that are not survey-related. The 2021 standards modification makes it clear to both the surveyor and the client that the surveyor does not need to address any items that are not related to the survey.

Section 6.C.ii. (e)

In Section 6.C.ii. (e), when the surveyor notes that an above-mentioned item is not located on or does not touch the surveyed property, they can now opine as to how this affects the property. The land surveyor will qualify this statement by noting that it is based ONLY on the description contained within the reviewed document and does not require the surveyor to determine the legal effect of the matter. It is important to note that this applies ONLY to matters the surveyor finds to be absent from the surveyed property. Understanding that the surveyor determined the item is not located on the property based on the description within the document, the title company now has a better understanding of things if asked to delete the exception from the land title policy.

Section 6.C.iii

In Section 6.C.iii., the surveyor must provide a notation if no physical access to the property was observed in the process of conducting the fieldwork to an abutting public or PRIVATE way. The 2021 standards added PRIVATE ways to this responsibility.

Section 6.C.vi

In Section 6.C.vi, requiring the surveyor to report information for adjoining non-platted lands, the surveyor also must now provide the tax parcel number for the lands if available.

New Responsibility for Surveyor’s

Last, a NEW requirement has been added. In Section 6.C.viii, the land surveyor has been given the new responsibility of notifying the title insurer if they discover a recorded easement that is not addressed in the land title evidence in the process of preparing the survey. Surveyors are NOT required to do a title search to look for these items, but they typically do some research to prepare the survey to the Normal Standards of Care (See Section 4 of the Minimum Standards). Along with their research, a surveyor might also gain this knowledge if they have access to prior surveys, site, or utility plans, etc., that are not recorded documents and therefore not accessible to the title company.

Additionally, the land surveyor may observe use by others on the property while conducting the fieldwork such as a driveway crossing the property to serve an adjoining property. If this matter is not addressed in the land title evidence, the surveyor may (but is not required) look for a recorded easement. This responsibility has been added to make the surveyor more proactive as the survey is often provided in the eleventh hour of a transaction making this newly observed easement a last-minute problem to resolve. If the title company is then not able to provide a release or vacation of the easement, the surveyor must note it accordingly within their summary of easements.