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New 2016 ALTA/NSPS Survey Standards Adopted

by Gary on November 24, 2015

The American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) adopted the new 2016 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys on October 8 and 9, 2015 respectively. The new standards go into effect on February 23rd of 2016.

There are a number of fairly substantial changes which are listed below. Of those substantial changes, the ones that surveyors might consider most notable are underlined.

  • The name change from ALTA/ACSM to ALTA/NSPS
  • Section 2 - Clarification that a Land Title Survey can be performed on non-fee interests like easements.
  • Section 4 – Clarifies the documents to be provided to the surveyor and, importantly, addresses the surveyor’s responsibility if those documents are not forthcoming.
  • Section 4 – Allows title evidence other than a title commitment as long as it is acceptable to the insurer.
  • Section 5 Preface – Addresses the precision with which features need to be located in the field.
  • Section 5.B.ii. – Clarifies the responsibility of the surveyor as related to locating the traveled way on abutting streets and highways.
  • Section – Clarifies the surveyor’s responsibility regarding locating evidence of right of way lines.
  • Section 5.C.ii. – Acknowledges the possibility that physical access may be restricted within 5 feet of the perimeter boundary (a note to that effect is required by Section 6.B.xi.)
  • Section 5.E.iv. – Observed evidence of utilities is now mandatory, not just when it is evidence of an easement pursuant to 5.E.i. and 5.E.ii.  Observed evidence of utilities used to be optional Table A item 11(a).
  • Section 5.G.i. – Canals, ditches, marshes and swamps are now required to be shown.
  • Section 6 Preface – The manner of dimensioning and precision of annotation is addressed.
  • Section 6.B.ii. – Requires a note indicating how any new description prepared by the surveyor relates to the record description (i.e., one and the same, or if not, how it differs).
  • Section 6.B.ix. – Clarifies the dimensioning of buildings from perimeter boundary lines.
  • Section 6.B.xi. – See note on Section 5.C.ii. above
  • Section 6.C.ii. – Requires a summary of the rights of way, easements and servitudes burdening the property pursuant to title evidence provided or obtained by the surveyor, whether they are shown or not, and any number of notes when relevant.
  • Table A Preface – Any additional items negotiated must be identified as 21.  When there are multiple additional items, they must be identified as 21(a), 21(b), etc.
  • Table A item 6(a) – Requires that a zoning letter or report containing any zoning information desired on the face of the plat be provided to the surveyor by the client.
  • Table A item 6(b) - Requires that a zoning letter or report containing relevant setback information desired on the face of the plat be provided to the surveyor by the client.  If the setbacks require interpretation, the surveyor will not graphically depict them.
  • Table A item 8 – Now requires that “substantial areas of refuse” be located.
  • Table A item 11 – This used to be item 11(b), but what was 11(a) is now required pursuant to 5.E.iv. as noted above, so what remains is simply item 11.  Clarifies that the surveyor is responsible for trying to obtain utility plans and for making the 811 utility locate request.  Expands on the “Note to client, insurer and lender” in order to manage expectations regarding what can and cannot be done as related to underground utility lines.
  • Former Table A item 18 (Observed evidence of site use as a solid waste dump, sump or sanitary landfill) –  This item has been deleted; responsibility belongs with the providers of the environmental assessment, not the surveyor.
  • Table A item 18 (former item 19) – The meaning of this item has been clarified in order to clearly state what was intended in 2011, but what was not clearly expressed.
  • Table A item 19 (former item 20) – What had been 20(b) in the 29011 Standards (monument off-site easements) has been eliminated.  What remains more clearly expresses the intent of the item.
  • Table A item 20 (former item 21) – Clarifies that the surveyor shall not address this item on the face of the plat or map. (Some lenders wanted surveyors to list the extent of their professional liability coverage on the face of the plat or in the certificate).

A copy of the official 2016 Standards and a redline version of the 2011 Standards showing the strikeouts and additions that form the 2016 Standards are available on the NSPS website