5 Legal Concern for Owners of Waterfront Property

Many property owners purchase waterfront properties to accomplish their dream of having their own relaxing vacation retreat. However, when purchasing a property that is located on or near any body of water, there are a few key issues property buyers must clarify before making the purchase. Continue reading for 5 of the most common.

1. Riparian Rights

If a property is truly waterfront, the owner will have riparian rights, which will enable him or her to do construction and improvement and apply for permits regarding hunting local wildlife. The property owner will also have the legal ability to restrict others from access to the water located on the property and its view. Some properties, however, are not truly waterfront. In this case, while the owner may be legally entitled to use the land near the water, the portion of the land that runs directly along the shoreline may be actually owned by someone else.

2. Maintenance Obligation

Erosion may be a concern for properties that are located along a beach or bluff. This may also be a concern for some riverfront properties. In these cases, property owners may be restricted from clearing trees and altering the landscape. Landowners may be required to purchase permits to make improvements to the land.

3. Pier Construction

A primary concern for most waterfront property owners is whether they will have access to a previously constructed pier or the ability to build one. If the land already has a pier, prospective buyers should investigate whether the pier was constructed according to a legal permit. Confirming whether the pier is shared or otherwise the subject of a legal dispute will also be of great importance prior to purchasing the property.

4. Shared or Private Rights to Waterfront

Though a property may be located within view of the waterfront, in some instances, the land that is located along the water may belong to the community. In these instances, the community developer may have subdivided a large parcel of land into lots while reserving the shoreline to be shared by the community's occupants. By doing so, members of the community are permitted to have access to the entire waterfront area for walking and other permissible recreational activities without regard to whether they are using the shoreline that is located directly connected to their individual lot.

5. Design Restrictions

Waterfront homes are often subjected to community rules regarding home design and landscaping. Prior to making the decision to purchase the property, prospective buyers should investigate applicable neighborhood association rules that may prohibit design and construction ideas the buyer may have in mind for his or her new property.

Owning waterfront property can be a great way to have a private retreat for beachfront or lakeside relaxation. However, becoming involved in a foreseeable legal dispute is not so relaxing. Therefore, those who are in the market for this type of property should consult both an experienced realtor and waterfront real estate attorney to better understand potential limitations that may apply to the buyer's ownership rights and land usage plans.

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