[Skip to Content]
DOT Logo
U.S. Department
of Transportation

Pipeline Safety Stakeholder Communications

Pipeline Safety Connects Us All

PIPA Recommended Practice BL08

BL08 "Manage Land Records"

Practice Statement Land use agreements between pipeline operators and property owners should be documented and managed and, when necessary, recorded.

Audience(s): Property Developer and Owner, Transmission Pipeline Operator

Practice Description

Allowable property owner activities and uses of a transmission pipeline right-of-way (ROW) are initially created when an easement agreement (see PIPA Recommended Practice BL07) is signed between the property owner and the pipeline company. These agreements are normally recorded with the appropriate statutory office. Once an easement agreement is executed, the property owner may have limited rights to perform certain activities within the boundaries of the easement. Usually, the property owner may make use of the easement in any manner that is consistent with and that will not interfere with the rights and activities granted to the pipeline operator in the easement. The character and extent of the rights created for both the grantor and grantee by a grant of easement is determined by the language of the grant.

A property owner may desire to use the land within the boundaries of the easement in a manner that was not allowed in the original easement agreement. To do so, the property owner will need to consult with the transmission pipeline operator to gain permission to perform the desired activity or use. If permission is granted, the agreement may be documented in the form of an encroachment agreement (see PIPA Recommended Practice ND26), a letter of no objection (Practice ND27), a partial release (Practice ND28), or an easement amendment (Practice BL09). The type of agreement document may vary, depending on the type and scope of the proposed activity or use of the easement.

Anyone who subdivides property, including subdivision developers, should provide purchasers of individual lots copies of applicable easements and, if available, a survey or drawing showing the location of the transmission pipeline and extent of the pipeline easement (see PIPA Recommended Practice ND10). Subdivision developers should record in the deeds the existing pipeline easements covering each lot in the subdivision.

Land documents should be recorded in order to provide public access to the records and public notice (i.e. constructive notice) of encumbrances on the affected property. Recording land documents is the official means by which interests in real property are made a matter of public record, and is necessary when public access to information related to easements, encroachment agreements, partial releases, letters of no objection, etc. is needed. Affected parties are charged with "constructive notice" of all recorded documents. Unrecorded easements and other interests may be challenged if a subsequent purchaser of a property subject to an easement buys it with no actual notice of the easement or other interest.

Transmission pipeline operators or property owners should record property easements and similar agreements as soon as possible after acquiring them. If existing easements were not recorded when they were acquired, they still can be recorded. In order to maintain or protect rights or meet obligations, the property owner and transmission pipeline operator must know such rights or obligations exist. A documented agreement between a property owner and a transmission pipeline operator provides a clear, enforceable vehicle to communicate allowable activities or uses of the pipeline right-of-way, including those that are not allowed in the original easement. Recording easements will help ensure that land use and development activities are not conducted in a manner that could be detrimental to transmission pipeline integrity and safety.

Documentation of easements is necessary to identify issues that may arise in planning future land use and development. Identification of potential conflicts and issues provides the opportunity to resolve them through discussion early in the planning process. Regardless of the type or duration of the agreement, property owners are subject to applicable state one-call damage prevention laws prior to performing any excavation on a transmission pipeline right-of-way.

In addition to recording documents with the appropriate statutory office, transmission pipeline operators should have a comprehensive record-keeping system established for land documents. Agreement records should be retained for the life the document, including any "encroachment agreement", letter of no objection", "partial release", or "easement amendment".