Buying and selling properties can be a confusing path to navigate. The employees here at TitleSmart try our best to provide our clients with exceptional title, escrow and real estate closing solutions, even the ones that appear more complicated than originally intended.

Take, for instance, if you are thinking of buying or selling property that borders a lake, river, or other body of water. There are certain rights that go with the ownership in connection with the use of the lake or river, called Riparian Rights.

The main principle of these rights is that all landowners whose property adjoins a body of water have the right to make reasonable uses of the water, including boating, swimming and fishing, or building a dock, as it flows through or over the land. For example, you are allowed to build a dock protruding out onto the body of water, as long as it follows the guidelines of the Department of Natural Resources or local ordinances.

Who owns the rest of the water, past your portion? Simply put, the government does. Riparian rights are also subject to the laws and regulations of various governmental agencies to regulate uses, such as wetland and wildlife regulations, or other environmental or water supply laws. Just as if you were to visit a local park or wildlife reserve, the local and national government can limit what kind of activities you can do on that land, same goes for bodies of water. Navigable waters are treated as public highways and thus are regulated by the government.

To conclude, Riparian Rights cannot be transferred separately from the land. This means they cannot be sold or transferred on their own, but must be transferred with none other than with the adjoining land. Have any questions about what this means for you as a realtor or homebuyer? Don’t hesitate to contact us here at TitleSmart. We would love to hear your concerns and find a solution.