Land Description Errors: Recognition, Avoidance, and Consequences

Journal of the Kansas Bar Association, Vol. 78, No. 20, September 2009

15 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2009  

John C. Peck

University of Kansas - School of Law

Christopher L. Steadham

University of Kansas School of Law Wheat Law Library

Date Written: November 18, 2009

Abstract

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.

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, K13

Suggested Citation

Peck, John C. and Steadham, Christopher L., Land Description Errors: Recognition, Avoidance, and Consequences (November 18, 2009). Journal of the Kansas Bar Association, Vol. 78, No. 20, September 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1508874

John C. Peck (Contact Author)

University of Kansas - School of Law ( email )

Green Hall
1535 W. 15th Street
Lawrence, KS 66045-7577
United States

Christopher L. Steadham

University of Kansas School of Law Wheat Law Library ( email )

Green Hall
1535 W. 15th Street
Lawrence, KS 66045-7577
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.ku.edu

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