As per Stewart Title Insurance Company there has been an increase in claims arising from the failure to take exception for riparian lands that have not been granted by the State of New Jersey. It made me realize and think that I bet most consumers nor real estate professionals even understand the ins and outs or even what “Riparian Rights” are. The fact is that such claims can be quite costly, both for the costs of the grant and for legal fees. From a New Jersey Title companies perspective the claims should be avoidable and from the consumers perspective just make sure you understand what you own and what you don’t going into settlement.
The General Rule: The State of New Jersey holds fee simple title to all lands now or formerly flowed by tidal waters. This rule not only follows the obvious interests in lands adjacent to the ocean, bays or tidally flowed rivers, but also usually includes lands that have been filled, as well as dormant streams and creek beds that have been dry for years. Hence, there could be claimed property by the State of New Jersey that is well inland or not part of a “shore” area.
There are maps that delineate the lands in which the State of New Jersey claims an interest. These maps are reviewed in order to determine if a particular property is affected by a tideland claim. There are professional companies that a NJ Title Company will use to review the maps and provide a determination as to whether a parcel is claimed or not.
To issue New Jersey Title Insurance we conduct a tideland search on every file unless the property lies within one of the four counties that do not have any tideland claims (Morris, Sussex, Warren and Hunterdon counties) or if based upon a review of the claim maps you are certain that the property being insured does not fall within a claimed area. Here is a link to the tidelands key map. A tideland search will be ordered if your property falls within or anywhere near a red “box.” As a NJ Title Company we make sure that properties with tidelands claims are identified and the appropriate exceptions are added to the title insurance commitment. Failing to add such exception to title would create a potential major loss for the title company. This is precisely why you see a tideland search attached to your title commitment.
Just for background purposes when we do find a property that is “claimed,” a grant search is ordered to determine if the State has released its claim. If there is a riparian grant or a lease issued by the State, it needs to be examined to determine if the claimed area is covered by the grant or lease. In the event that there is no grant or lease, or if the grant or lease does not cover the entire claimed area, an exception for the rights of the State of New Jersey would be added to the title insurance commitment.
Additionally if a property being insured lies adjacent to a navigable body of water, the United States has authority to control “bulkhead and pierhead lines” and may take “adjacent land in order to maintain navigation”. Accordingly, such exceptions would be added to title. Lastly, obviously exceptions are taken when the access to a beach is in question. These rights stem from New Jersey Supreme Court decisions upholding the public’s rights to beach access.
If you have any questions as to how potential Riparian Rights affect the property subject to your real estate transaction do not hesitate to contact our offices. We look forward to assisting!