Asked in Land Use & Zoning and Real Estate Law for Kentucky

Q: Reference to old land surveys and deeds

If a neighboring property deed from 1908 has reference to bearings in an original survey in 1863, should any surveys performed thereafter be performed using the magnetic north declination in that same year? If a new survey was performed in 2011 using 1983 bearings and caused a defect in my new survey of an adjoining property could I request the surveyor to recalculate his findings based on the other land owners original referenced survey date? Would it be at my own cost or could I expect him to do it without charge due to his own failure to use correct declination? Would it be a reasonable request? I may be losing approximately 5 to 10+ acres due to this problem.

1 Lawyer Answer
Anthony M. Avery
Anthony M. Avery
  • Real Estate Law Lawyer
  • Knoxville, TN

A: Declination is always a problem that is rarely addressed until a surveyor gets cross examined. Apparently it is the adjoining property's calls with the 1863 bearings, not yours. You and your predecessors have probably acquiesced to a ascertainable boundary over the years, and you probably cannot contest it now successfully. A KY lawyer will have to tell you about a surveyor's SOL for liability, but on your facts I am not seeing malpractice. At best you might resurvey that boundary and then sue for a Boundary Line Dispute. I doubt your surveyor used 1983 declination, but instead surveyed in accordance with a NAD 1983 geoid. If this boundary is not at least 1500 feet long, the difference will be minimal. If the boundary is at least 2500 feet, then it may be advisable to investigate it. You may wish to contact me, if no KY attorneys respond.

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