Understanding Timber Rights in US Property Law

The right to own property in the United States is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution. This means that when you purchase real estate, you have the right to use it as you wish, subject to local zoning laws. This includes the right to sit on the land, cultivate it, graze livestock, build a house, hunt or dig trenches. However, there are certain rights that may be reserved by the seller of the property, such as timber rights.

In this article, we'll explore what timber rights are and how they are defined under US property law. In a nutshell, timber rights refer to the right of a seller of real estate to own or use something above or below the land they sell. This could include minerals, oil, natural gas, or other hydrocarbons located below a depth of 500 feet below such real estate. If a title document transfers the land to a husband and wife, modern real estate law presupposes that a lease is created in its entirety, unless the deed specifically states otherwise. If a real estate agent or seller tells you that there is no longer a timber rights reserve on the property, it's important to insist on obtaining a deed stating that there are no longer any reserved rights to the wood on that property. If you're looking for property west of the Mississippi River, a water rights reserve would remove that property from your list faster than any other rights reserve. If a previous royalty or mineral right is described, the term of proper use is subject to the prior reservation of mineral rights or royalties.

All first-year law students are taught the analogy that the title to a parcel of land is like a bundle of sticks, with each stick representing a separate, separable right. If you have been taking them for the period of time specified in state law, you can establish the right to continue eating apples for as long as you want to. If you are going to buy property in the main oil-producing states and a deed says “saved” or “less and less”, it's important to have a lawyer interpret that deed to find out if you will become the holder of a reserve or royalty or if it is still a right of the grantor (seller).In conclusion, understanding timber rights in US property law is essential for anyone looking to purchase real estate. It's important to understand what rights are reserved by the seller and what rights you will have as an owner. It's also important to ensure that any deed you receive clearly states whether there are any reserved timber rights on the property.