Tideland Claims on LBI Property – What You Need to Know

Thinking about buying a home on Long Beach Island? The idea of owning a home at the shore can be exciting. You may even be considering waterfront property. You could put a dock in and be able to simply walk out the back door and jump in your boat. Unfortunately, it may not be that easy. If you’re planning to purchase LBI real estate, you need to do some research. Properties in waterfront communities can be subject to tideland claims. It’s important to understand what these are and how they can impact the property you’re considering.

Tidelands and Tideland Claims

Tidelands are also referred to as riparian lands. They are lands that are currently or formerly flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway. For example, Barnegat Bay, a natural tidal body of water is tideland. Tidelands also exist in areas where water no longer flows. New Creek was a tiny tidal stream that used to flow through the city of Newark a century ago. Even though it has been filled in and built over, it is still considered tideland.

There is an extensive network of tidelands in New Jersey and it is not uncommon to find them in waterfront communities. The state claims ownership of these tidelands and they are overseen by the Tidelands Resource Council, in conjunction with DEP staff at the Bureau of Tidelands Management. Because they are public lands, written permission from the state is required to use tidelands. A fee, which varies depending on the market value of the land, must also be paid.

Riparian Grant

Some tidelands may be sold in the form of a riparian grant, which is a deed from the state for the sale of those tidelands. Currently, New Jersey only issues riparian grants for tidelands that have been filled in. In order to get a clear title to a property with a tideland claim, you would need to apply for a riparian grant. These grants should be reviewed carefully, as some can include stipulations as to how the tideland can be used, such as restricting further development. The sale of currently flowed tidelands has been discontinued in New Jersey. In order to use them, currently flowed tidelands must be rented through either a tidelands license or lease.

Tideland License

A tideland license is a short-term rental agreement from the State of New Jersey, According to the New Jersey DEP, it is required for the following uses of its currently flowed tidelands.

  • Fixed structures (i.e. docks, piers, mooring piles, floating docks, boat lifts, riprap, etc) constructed on currently flowed tidelands
  • Bulkhead extensions that exceed or will exceed the mean high water line (As formerly flowed tidelands, bulkhead extensions may be purchased from the State if desired; however, they must be rented via a valid License until a Riparian Grant is delivered.)
  • Marina slips (defined as five or more rented boat slips), yacht and boat club structures
  • Dredging within state-owned tidal water
  • Utilities or Utility-related structures (i.e. pipes, cable lines) that cross over or under state-owned tidelands
  • Bridge construction/maintenance over state-owned tidelands

While some of these may not be applicable when purchasing residential LBI real estate, applying for a tideland license will probably be necessary for adding that dock you were thinking about. Additionally, if you’re are buying a property from a developer, it’s important to find out if a part of that property is tideland. If the developer received a riparian grant for a tideland area and then subdivided and sold individual lots, they may retain ownership of the grant land. This could result in you not truly owning your entire property and potentially having to pay the developer to use the dock you thought was yours.

Tideland Leases

As opposed to licenses, a tideland lease is a long-term rental agreement with the state for the use of currently flowed tidelands. Leases are granted for large development projects or homes built over water that require long-term financing. Leases must be obtained for existing structures as well as new construction. The state does not grandfather existing homes built over the water. If you are considering this type of LBI real estate, it will involve obtaining a tideland lease.

Statement of No Interest

This is a document stating that New Jersey has no tideland claims on a specific property or area. If a tideland claim search has been conducted and it appears that there are no claims, a statement of no interest may be applied for. The burden of proof is the applicant’s responsibility and the application will only be considered under the following circumstances.

  • The state’s claim is in close proximity to the subject property.
  • The subject property is affected by a Tidelands Claim according to the adopted Tidelands map, but the applicant questions the validity of that claim.
  • The subject property has an undefended shoreline that has been augmented by natural accretion.

The search may reveal a tideland claim based on the adopted tidelands map which has been eradicated by an existing valid conveyance such as a riparian grant. If the validity of the existing conveyance is in doubt, you would need to submit a grant application rather than apply for a statement of no interest.

LBI Real Estate Professionals

Not all LBI real estate is subject to tideland claims. However, it’s important to have a tideland search conducted before entering into a binding property agreement. A tideland claim can complicate and extend the process for both the buyer and the seller. If you are aware of the tideland claim upfront, you can evaluate whether or not the property is worth the effort and expense of obtaining a riparian grant, tideland license, tideland lease or a statement of no interest.

When looking to buy or sell LBI real estate, it’s best to work with an agency that has experience and is knowledgeable about the area. The Freeman Group has over 24 years of experience working with a wide variety of clients from individual homeowners to developers and investors.

They trust us to guide them the entire process of their most important transactions and lucrative investment.  We don’t take this trust lightly and provide every client with the highest level of professionalism and personalized service. Contact us for all your LBI real estate needs.