So you've found a piece of property that's perfect for you and your family, right? You're ready to drop your earnest money and sign on the dotted line to secure your little slice of Heaven. But not so fast, before you buy any property with land in New York State, you need to look into who has legal access to the mineral rights, because it might not be you. According to Cornell Law School, mineral rights are,

The ownership of rights to minerals, including oil and gas, contained in a tract of land. A mineral right is a real property interest and can be conveyed independently of the surface estate. Mineral rights generally include the right to sell all or part of the interest, the right to enter the land to produce and carry on production activities, the right to lease the mineral rights to others, and the right to create fractional shares of the mineral interest. Also referred to as a 'mineral interest' or a 'mineral estate.'

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In New York, you can own the land and have surface rights, while another person or entity actually owns the mineral rights through a lease. Even when land is sold to a new owner, the mineral lease still stands. That means you or your attorney potentially need to research if the is a mineral interest on the prospective property. Someone may actually have the legal right to extract oil, natural gas, salt, or minerals from your land. Get the picture? You might have to allow strangers access to the property you just purchased. According to MineralWise,

Although it may not be immediately intuitive, the surface and its attendant rights (associated rights) of a particular tract of land can be owned separately from the minerals underneath. This may sometimes come as a surprise to an owner that would like to participate (as in make money) through an oil and gas lease. Surface owners can be restricted simply by the fact that they are not the owner of the minerals underneath.

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In New York, the Division of Mineral Resources regulates the operation of mining or drilling operations. The Department of Environmental Conservation offers some guidance to potential buyers,

If you are purchasing property in an area with known oil and gas activity (central and western New York), it is important to research and obtain as much information as possible prior to entering into a contractual agreement. Ask the seller about any unplugged oil or gas well(s) on the property. New York State Real Property Law (RPP 8- 242.3) states that a seller with knowledge of the existence of an unplugged gas well must disclose this information to the purchaser prior to the sale. Consult with your attorney to review the property deed for potential oil and gas clauses.

Word to the wise is that if you plan to buy a property in New York State with any type of land, make sure you inquire about mineral rights and who owns them before you sign anything binding!

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