Land Description Errors: Recognition, Avoidance, and Consequences
John C. Peck
University of Kansas - School of Law
Christopher L. Steadham
University of Kansas School of Law Wheat Law Library
November 18, 2009
Journal of the Kansas Bar Association, Vol. 78, No. 20, September 2009
Legal descriptions of land are used in many legal documents, including contracts, deeds, mortgages, and others. The article first describes several commonly used description methods, including the metes and bounds, U.S. Government Survey, plat reference, and surveyor's or angular description. A suggested method of drawing descriptions is provided. Many types of errors can occur in legal descriptions. Errors can be made because the description is too informal, is ambiguous, or contains mistakes in numbers. Sometimes errors are made when the description is valid in and of itself, but is not the one intended by the parties. Courts have devised canons and aids in construction of land descriptions that contain patent or latent errors. When errors are made, several parties may be adversely affected, including buyers and sellers, mortgagors and mortgagees, lawyers, and land surveyors. For lawyers, errors can implicate both legal and professional ethics violations. Surveyors may be liable in malpractice. The article concludes with some suggestions on methods to avoid making errors in land descriptions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 15
Keywords: land, real estate, legal description, metes and bounds, U.S. Government Survey, section, township, range, reference point, surveyor's or angular description, plat reference, errors, consequences of errors, malpractice, code of professional responsibility, deed, contract, mortgage, legal notice
JEL Classification: K11, K13Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: December 10, 2009
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