Ok, have a question for the experts here.
State is Ohio
I am the land owner and minerals were sold completely by the prior owner. My question is - does the mineral owner have a legal right to enter property, establish drilling rigs, pipeline or storage WITHOUT my consent ?
The prior owner of both land and minerals DID convey to a partial mineral owner these rights, in the mineral sales agreement. However - 2 things I can see is a problem with this:
Only 60% of minerals were conveyed to this owner - 40% owner did not get that clause, so as a 60% owner, how can you say you have 100% access to property. What if the 40% owner also wants access? There’s a conflict here I would think.
If prior owner were to grant rights to the mineral owner, but mineral owner fails to record this to the property deed - and then subsequently sell the property on a deed with no right of way or other restrictions - how can the property owner who holds deed be forced to accept an undisclosed condition that is otherwise cureable by not allowing mineral owner access.
Would seem mineral owner may have recourse against the person who sold them something they no longer have ability to grant - but the new landowner has clean hands, having no knowledge of prior agreements nor an ability to reject development of their land.
Just trying to make sense of a confusing issue and to get this clarified.
This is what attorneys are for. Find a good one and ask. This is a complicated issue; don't try to navigate this on your own.
I sold my property years ago but retained all mineral rights, basically anything under the grass. Set it up in a LLC. My recorded paperwork
and all the Legalese documents say that I can do what I want. Drive on the land, drill etc. I am surprised that the new landowner agreed to all this. I had very little knowledge on reserving Mineral rights and all the stuff that goes with it so that I could reap any benefits later on down the road.
I went out and hired a really good oil/gas Attorney. Not a Lawyer who does dog bites, DUI's and family disputes.
My suggestion is you take all the documents you can pull or have and get a real Oil/Gas Attorney.
I am in Ohio also
Ok - I see a few issues with what you are saying - and would question/take issue potentially as a disinterested 3rd party.
I am not an attorney, but I know how to read case law and how a judge likely would rule on its application.
You say you sold land - and kept minerals (the fact they are held by an individual, LLC, corporation or life estate makes no difference here) and have full rights to the property.
Are the "rights of access" filed on the property title - or just on the minerals ? If on the deed - you may have a legally effective document, if just on the mineral deed - I would doubt its validity. Which is the point of my post.
Ohio courts have consistently recognized minerals and surface as "2 exclusive estates - each with their own right of enjoyment and implied rights" - meaning simply - you have the full right to use your property as you wish - so long as it does not infringe upon any other "neighboring" property owners rights. Same logic that would apply if say for example I wanted to build a large factor on my land - I am free to do so (within zoning requirements) - but I cannot allow waste emissions to fill the air over the house built next door - prohibiting them from reasonably going outside.
Reviewing case law in Ohio - it appears that unless there is a clear right of way/easement recorded on the root title deed to the surface reserving rights for the mineral holder - the mineral holder simply has those rights implied by law. After all - the issue may come up YEARS after the original mineral holder and surface owner have sold their interest. Ohio has been pretty consistent in saying things cannot be held "forever" as a matter of public policy without clear reservations being given.
Implied rights appear to be the right to bore under the surface/run pipeline for transport and when reasonably not obtainable via other means - to enter the property for purposes of drilling to access minerals. Implied rights do not appear to include placing of storage/waste disposal wells - drilling of an unreasonable nature or when suitable alternatives are available or simple trespass onto the property or placement of structures/roadways/rail spurs.
Think of it this way - you as land owner and mineral owner sold land - and the deal you made MAY well be binding between you and the land owner who bought from you (as they were aware of conditions you placed on the sale) - but if its not in the title to property - you lose those rights on transfer of the land - as the next owner has no reasonable way of knowing someone before them made a deal with the prior owner. You would potentially have recourse against the land owner you sold to - but the new land owner is an innocent 3rd party who never met or knew of your existence. No different for example of say someone who owns a truck and a trailer - they want to keep the truck - but don't need the trailer. Buyer of trailer says - "I want it, but I need your cooperation in pulling the trailer any time it needs to be moved - truck owner agrees to this and says I will do it for free if you buy the trailer. Truck owner passes 4 years later - there is nothing to the title of the truck requiring the owner to perform any duties for the trailer owner....trailer owner calls buyer of truck and says - "you owe me free hauling services" - the new truck owner says no, and would have no obligation. The trailer owner MAY have recourse against the estate of truck owner for failing to provide services - but again, contracts with no limit are not typically enforceable.
And just my experience - "a real good" attorney is one who is willing to respond for free when their work is challenged in a court (and it will be - no one in the legal field is "afraid" to challenge another attorneys work - not matter how big of a "name" they may think they have. Unless you have that - you just paid for a name. A lawyer can write ANYTHING in a contract and make it plain to anyone to read - but it does not make it legal or enforceable. I could place a clause on my deed that any future owner must abide by my wishes and those of my successors and that I am forever to be considered the royal family of the land - it does not make my land a sovereign nation under my control.
And again without seeing a document no way to comment on it - BUT
There is a 4 pronged standard in the courts that seems to apply on minerals-surface...I’m paraphrasing here but it is:
- is the lands present use effected by development of minerals (I/e, you cannot destroy protected habitats)
- is a reasonable alternative available (ie is a nearby land owner willing to lease surface when the surface in dispute does not wish to)
- would allowing development harm the inherent rights of surface owner
- would the development change contour or future use of land potentially
Even if you have a document giving you free access - a surface owner would appear to have a very winnable case against you if any of these 4 standards can be proven. Given the bar to reach - any of the 4 may apply on any reasonably developed land in production otherwise.