The state of Florida has adopted the Marketable Record Title Act (MRTA) to simplify conveyances of real property, stabilize titles, facilitate land title transactions and give certainty to land ownership.
Southern States Land & Timber LLC once owned approximately 2,000,000 acres in what are now Martin,
Palm Beach, Indian River, Broward, Dade, Collier, Lee, Hendry, and Desoto counties, of which approximately 668,000 acres were in Palm Beach,
Martin and Indian River counties. Those lands were sold over a period of years, and in the 1940’s Southern States Land & Timber LLC began
reserving the minerals rights in connection with the sale of its properties.
The legal effect of the reservation of mineral rights is to create a separate interest in the land being sold (the mineral estate). Courts have
held that there can be two estates in land, and whenever the surface estate is severed from the mineral estate, the mineral estate is the dominant
estate, and as such, its owner has the right of ingress and egress to the land to explore, locate and remove minerals.
MRTA’s provisions provide that those claiming an interest in land (including the right of entry pursuant to a mineral reservation) may preserve
and protect the right of entry from extinguishment by filing a notice with the clerk of court during the 30-year period immediately following
the date of the reservation or previous notice filing. The clerk then records the notice, just as other title records are recorded and maintained,
and also sends a copy of the notice to the property owner.
Southern States’ operations focus on its reserved mineral interests and the associated surface access rights retained in south Florida. Southern
States Land & Timber LLC understandably views such rights as a very valuable asset to be preserved in perpetuity. In December 1976, the
company made MRTA filings with the clerks of court in Palm Beach, Martin and Indian River counties to preserve its rights of ingress and egress
appurtenant to its reserved mineral rights in those counties. In June, 2006 Southern States Land & Timber LLC made similar MRTA filings.
If you are an owner of property where Southern States Land & Timber LLC has a reserved mineral interest, and Southern States Land & Timber
LLC has not waived its surface access rights, you or a prior owner received a copy of the MRTA filing notice from the clerk of court in your
county, giving notice of Southern States’ rights. Property owners also received a letter from Southern States, explaining the existence of
Southern States’ property interest, and that we had initiated the MRTA notice process with the clerks of court.
There is no action required in connection with the notice from the clerk of court regarding Southern States’ reservation and access rights.
What does this information mean to the owner of property subject to Southern States’ reserved mineral rights? Unless waived by Southern States
Land & Timber LLC, Southern States, as owner of a mineral interest, has the right to enter upon the land to test for, explore and conduct
whatever extractive activities are necessary to recover its minerals. Without Southern States’ waiver, this reservation may constitute what
is sometimes referred to as a “cloud” on the title, which can obstruct the transfer of a clear title and sale to a subsequent buyer or prevent
the granting of a satisfactory collateral interest to a potential mortgage lender. Without a waiver of the surface entry rights, title insurance companies should not provide a title policy without making reference to Southern States’ rights
in the property being insured.
Southern States Land & Timber LLC wishes to facilitate commerce and development and to assist current owners desiring to secure a “clear” title
to their property. Southern States therefore offers to property owners time sequential surface access waivers for a nominal fee, waiving Southern
States’ right of entry for the current land owner, with our commitment to a similar opportunity for subsequent owners of the land to obtain
the same waiver. The advantage of clearing title issues for surface access rights means such issues are avoided when attempting to sell or
otherwise transfer title in the future. Our waiver program can provide current and future owners of the land assurance that the value of the
property will not be impaired in the future by virtue of Southern States’ right of entry.
Those who wish to request a waiver of Southern States’ surface access rights should contact Southern States Land
& Timber LLC by email, mail or phone and provide the information requested on the Surface Rights Waiver Information Request Form available on this website.