New 2016 ALTA/NSPS Property Survey Table A Requirements

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Andrew Royce

Serving Boston, MA

Partner at firm Sherin and Lodgen LLP

Serving Boston, MA

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Effective February 23, 2016, the American Land Title Association and the National Society of Professional Surveyors issued new Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for land title surveys to replace the Requirements issued in 2011. The new Requirements include several revisions to the Table A Optional Survey Responsibilities and Specifications. Table A issues were discussed in my prior blog dated January 9th, 2013. The most significant changes have been to Item 6 (zoning), Item 11 (utilities), and old Item 19 (now Item 18, wetlands).

Item 6 has been revised to require the surveyor to list the current zoning classification, setback requirements, height and floor space area restrictions and parking requirements only if the information is set forth in a zoning report or letter provided by the client to the surveyor. The surveyor is required to depict the building setback lines only if the setback requirements are set forth in the owner furnished zoning report or letter and do not require an interpretation by the surveyor (for example, as to whether a given property line on a corner lot is a side yard line or a rear yard line). Previously Item 6 had placed the onus on the title insurer to provide the zoning information to the surveyor, which was seldom done in practice. Revised Item 6 makes it clear that the onus is now on the client property owner to obtain either (i) a zoning report from a zoning analysis company, or (ii) a zoning compliance letter from the municipality, and to furnish those materials to the surveyor.

Old Item 11(a), which required surveyors to depict evidence of utilities observed on the surface of the land (such as manholes, catch basins and wires and poles), has now become a requirement for all land title surveys (rather than an optional item). Revised Item 11 now requires surveyors to request utility plans from utility companies or the client, and request utility markings pursuant to an 811 utility locate or similar request. The surveyor is then supposed to combine information from such plans and markings with observed evidence of utilities to develop a view of the underground utilities.

Old Item 19 required surveyors to locate wetland areas as delineated by appropriate authorities. New Item 18 instead requires the surveyor to depict any wetlands delineation markers observed in the field which have been placed there by the owner client’s qualified wetlands specialist. If no markers are observed, the surveyor so states.

The 2016 revisions to these Table A requirements continue the trend, which began with the 2011 Table A revisions, of limiting circumstances under which a surveyor may be required to exercise judgment or discretion outside of the traditional scope of land surveying.

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