New Land Title Survey Standards Adopted

Dale Astle

By Dale Astle

Monday, April 11, 2016

Effective February 23, 2016, the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) approved a comprehensive revision to the existing standard requirements for land title surveys. Surveys prepared pursuant to these standard requirements will now be referred to as an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey. Prior to this recent revision to the survey standards, the designation for such surveys was ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey.

Some of the more significant changes in the standard requirements relating to survey fieldwork, the survey drawing and survey certifications are:

  • Clarifies the manner in which any rights of way for access will be shown on the survey.
  • Adds railroads, railroad sidings and spur tracks to the list of features to be shown under the category of forms of access by parties other than the apparent occupants of the surveyed property.
  • Specifies that trees, bushes, shrubs, and other natural vegetation on the site need not be shown on the survey, unless required by the contract or deemed by the surveyor to be evidence of possession. 
  • Adds a requirement regarding easements and servitudes for the surveyor to show uses by third parties on the property such as drives, sidewalks, paths and other ways of access. In addition, the surveyor shall show evidence which indicates utilities located on, over or beneath the surveyed property. Such evidence would include pipeline markers, manholes, valves, meters, transformers, utility pedestals and poles and overhead lines and guy wires.
  • Revises the criteria for depiction of the location of cemeteries. The standards now require the showing of the perimeter of a cemetery, but no longer require the showing of the location of gravesites located within the perimeter.

However, isolated gravesites not located within a cemetery or burial ground are to be shown.

  • Revises the criteria for showing water features to include the requirement to show canals, ditches, marshes and swamps, including those located outside of, but located within five feet of, the perimeter of the surveyed property.
  • Specifies that if a new legal description is prepared, the survey shall contain a note stating that (a) the new description is the same real estate as the record description, or, (b) how the new description differs from the record description.

Revisions to Table A 

 Table A of the standard survey requirements regarding optional survey specifications has been revised. Some of the more significant revisions are as follows:

  • Item 2 regarding street addresses has been revised to include the showing of addresses of the surveyed property disclosed in documents provided to or obtained by the surveyor, in addition to those addresses observed by the surveyor in the process of conducting the fieldwork. 
  • Item 6 regarding zoning information has been revised to specify that the zoning classification(s) to be set out on the survey shall be those classifications set out in a zoning report or letter provided to the surveyor.

Also, parking requirements shall be set out as delineated within the zoning report or letter.

  • Item 8 regarding showing of substantial features observed by the surveyor has been revised to include showing of “substantial areas of refuse”, in addition to the existing list of features to be shown such as parking lots, billboards, signs, swimming pools and landscaped areas.

Note- Item 18 on the former Table A, regarding the showing of observed evidence of site use as a solid waste dump or sanitary landfill, has been eliminated.

  • Item 13 regarding showing the names of adjoining owners was revised to specify that the source of the ownership information is the current tax records. In the case of multiple owners, only the first owner’s name, as shown in the tax records, need be listed.
  • Item 18 was revised to provide clarity regarding the showing of wetlands. The survey requirements now specify that the surveyor shall show any wetlands delineation markers observed by the surveyor.


Click here for a copy of the Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys showing the revisions discussed above.