Although you may own a plot of land and the structures that sit upon the land, it does not necessarily mean that you own what is below the surface of your property. In many states, including Florida, the rights to what is above ground (surface rights) and above the surface (air rights) is considered separate from the rights to what is below ground (mineral rights). When purchasing Florida ranch land for sale, it is very important to know whether your purchase includes the surface, mineral, and air rights.
Surface rights are the landowner’s rights to the upper boundary of land, water, and other substances that are not included in the mineral rights of the property, such as sand, gravel, and limestone. As previously mentioned, ownership of surface rights does not always indicate ownership of mineral rights or air rights.
Subsurface rights, more commonly known as “mineral rights” are the right to extract and profit from all organic and inorganic substances beneath the surface. According to Florida Statute 704.05, a mineral rights owner who is separate from the owner of surface rights to a property can legally enter a property to extract minerals from the subsurface without the consent of the surface rights owner.
Air rights are the right to the vertical space above the surface of a property. The owner of the air rights to a property gains the right to control, occupy, and use the air space above the property. This right is not exclusive, and as such, the rights are subject to zoning restrictions and reasonable use by neighbors and others for different purposes such as aircraft.
Why Is This Important?
The complete private ownership of land also known as “fee simple estate,” which includes ownership of the surface, subsurface, and air rights to the property, is one of the most basic forms of land ownership. However, a land owner is not required to sell a property with all the rights to the property intact, and this includes Florida ranch land for sale. In fact, a land owner can sever the ownership of the property and sell, lease, or transfer the surface, subsurface, and air rights of the property separately to others. If the rights to the property are sold, leased, or transferred separately, this can result in partial ownership of the rights to the property or a split estate, which can lead to major problems for prospective buyers.
In split estate situations, the mineral right ownership is recognized as the dominant estate. Meaning that mineral rights owners have the right to perform activities that are “reasonably necessary” to extract the minerals from the subsurface, even over the objections of the surface rights owner. In some agreements, it may be stipulated that the mineral rights owner may extract minerals or lease mineral rights at any time by any means, regardless of the effect on the surface of the property.
Depending upon the intended use of the land, knowing what your rights are as a buyer of ranch land for sale in Florida is an essential aspect of making a sound land investment decision. To determine whether a property’s rights are severed, it is highly recommended to seek the help of a land professional. At SVN Saunders Real Estate, our agents and brokers possess a wide range of knowledge and experience in land sales and leases, and will help ensure that your rights as a landowner are protected and preserved.