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ALTA/NSPS Update the Land Title Survey Standards

Effective as of February 23, 2021, the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) have, once again, updated the Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys.

The Minimum Standard Detail Requirements were first established in 1962 through a joint effort between ALTA and NSPS and have been updated several times since then, most recently in 2016.

The new Minimum Standard Detail Requirements that became effective last week can be found here. Some key updates are as follows:

  • When conducting the fieldwork, surveyors are now required to plot “utility locate markings” to show location and evidence of easements and utilities, with a note as to the source of such markings (such as flags, markings on sidewalks, or road).
  • The requirement to include a summary of all rights of ways, easements, and servitudes has been revised to require only a summary of “all rights of ways, easements, and survey-related matters”.  Any opinion as to whether a matter affects the subject property must be based on the description contained in the underlying document.
  • Surveyors are required to add tax parcel numbers for adjoining properties, if available.
  • If a surveyor becomes aware of a recorded easement that was not listed in the title report or commitment for the property, the surveyor is now required to advise the title company of the easement. If the title company has not discovered any release of such easement, then the surveyor is required to show it or otherwise explain it somewhere on the survey.
  • Table A, item 6 has been modified to require delivery of a zoning report specific to the subject property
  • Table A, item 10(b) which addressed whether certain walls on the property were plumb (straight up and down) has been deleted. What was previously item 10(a) is now item 10.
  • Table A, item 11 previously set forth the manner in which surveyors were to locate underground utilities. Given the difficulty in locating underground utilities, this Table A item has been revised to say that evidence of underground utilities may be noted on the survey, by providing surveyor plans and/or reports, or by markings coordinated by the surveyor pursuant to a private utility locate request.  
  • Table A, item 18 which addressed the delineation of wetlands on the subject property has been deleted. If a client wishes to locate any wetlands, this request should be negotiated as a Table 20 item.
  • New Table A, item 18 (formerly 19) has been revised and still provides for off-site (appurtenant) easements to be surveyed as well, including any selected Table A items, but now excludes Table A, item 1 (monuments).

The 2021 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements should be adhered to by all land surveyors, real estate practitioners, and clients. It is important to note that these are industry standards and any state or local statutory or administrative standards must also be considered and noted within a survey.

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