Striving For Perfection

PERFECTION. It’s what we all strive for, but often feels impossible to achieve. Whether it be the perfect bowling score or that perfect summer bod, it’s something that’s always just out of reach. The same inadequate, frustrating feelings come up when evaluating land rights.

Every Land Agent loves a new project because you get to start fresh with a new road or a new utility line for increased capacity or reliability—it’s a clean slate. But what about those projects where you need to rebuild a 100-year-old water line or realign a 75-year-old road? To move forward with those projects, understanding land rights is the first step. Initially, the land rights must be researched to understand what rights exist where, and then you must ascertain what land rights still need to be acquired. So, when a project requires researching old land rights or sifting through the ancient paper records in the back of the office, every Land Agent hopes THAT project gets assigned to someone else.

Files and Documents

Honestly, who wants to decipher cursive, handwritten, paper copy documents from over 50-years ago, let alone do the research to find the correct document through decades of records?! ... BRI does!!! Performing research to find the original agreement with the property owner for the installation of a water line from 50 years ago is what gives us the warm fuzzies. We often need to search through multiple iterations of record keeping systems and thousands of records to find the exact document for a project, and our ability to find that document is something we pride ourselves on. This research is especially rewarding when we find the document and it already has all the land rights needed for the project.

And that brings us full circle to perfection, because sometimes that old document just can’t be found. Through no fault of anyone, the record is lost to the entropy of the cosmos. Sometimes its poor record keeping or sometimes unforeseen external forces, like flood damage destroying paper records. In either case, the record is gone and it’s not coming back. However, all is not lost. At BRI, it is our job to identify and create an inventory of these land rights ‘gaps’ to get to perfection.

Land rights perfection would be having a document or secured right for every inch of a utility system to legally enforce the rights for maintenance and use of that system no matter where it is installed. Things start to get very complicated very quickly if you have ever worked on a project where the land rights for a utility line are “missing” and you need to start going down the route of a prescriptive right. These situations can wholly be avoided if the land rights gap is identified and immediately addressed. Recently, I have had the privilege of working with some forward-thinking clients who recognized the need to identify and perfect their land rights. While the project was not the highest priority in their office, they knew just how much easier their lives would be once completed. As of today, they have inventoried all their existing rights into a digital system from paper, identified and inventoried all the gaps in land rights and are working on a process to address and acquire the gaps. Very soon, they will have perfect land rights.

So, PERFECTION is possible. I’m not going to hold my breath for the perfect summer bod but when it comes to perfection of land rights, please consider taking the steps to get there, as it will only make your life that much easier. And if inventorying land rights sounds too daunting, give us a call and we would be happy to help make perfection a reality.

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