Mineral rights are the ownership rights to the minerals, gas and oil below the land surface of a property. Surface rights are the rights to the land surface of a property. Property owners in the United States are able to purchase the surface rights and the mineral rights separately for the property that they own. However, it is possible for a property owner to own the surface rights but not the mineral rights. Research into the ownership rights of a property will provide information as to the owner of the various rights to the land.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Property address
Visit the County Clerk's office in the county where the subject property is located and look up the tax identification number for the property. Tax identification numbers typically stay consistent with a parcel of land, while addresses can change over the years. Therefore, researching a property by tax identification number should provide the most accurate data. Call the office before you go and inquire if an appointment is necessary to review public documents.
Perform a property title search at the county courthouse using the parcel's tax identification number. A title search is a process of reviewing all of the titles to a property which will document all of the past sales involving the property, including sale dates, owners and parcel information. Mineral rights information is often included in a property title. Research the title as far into the past as possible.
If the title search does not provide detailed information on the mineral rights, review the abstract of deed. Some states record the mineral rights information on the abstract of deed.
View the mineral rights information on the state's website to learn additional information about how your state handles mineral and surface rights. Many states have different methods of handling the ownership of mineral rights so it is important to review the available information for your state if there is any confusion concerning the ownership of a property's mineral rights. Geology.com has a list of mineral rights information websites for many states which commonly have mineral rights issues.
Tips and warnings
- Hire a mineral rights attorney to help you perform the title search to determine the owner of the mineral rights if the property has a complicated history.
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