What Is A Legal Description Referring To When Defining Property Boundaries And Location?

A legal description of property is a crucial aspect when it comes to defining the boundaries and location of a piece of land. It serves as the foundation for all property transactions, including buying, selling, or transferring ownership. This unique description ensures that there are no disputes or misunderstandings related to the exact location and extent of a particular property.

To fully comprehend this essential concept, it is vital to explore its various components and how they help in establishing clear property lines.


  • 1. Legal descriptions of property are crucial for defining boundaries, establishing ownership rights, and facilitating smooth property transactions.
  • 2. Common methods for creating legal descriptions include metes and bounds, rectangular survey system, and lot and block system, each with specific rules and guidelines.
  • 3. Accurate legal descriptions play a significant role in calculating property taxes based on land size and location, and preventing disputes among property owners.
  • 4. Resolving property line disputes may require hiring a licensed land surveyor, consulting public records, and even mediation or litigation for reaching a final resolution.
  • 5. Ensuring the accuracy of a legal description is vital for maintaining property value and avoiding unnecessary complications related to land ownership.

There are different methods used in creating legal descriptions for properties; some common ones include metes and bounds, rectangular survey system, and lot and block system. Each method has specific rules and guidelines that aid in accurately outlining the property's boundaries while considering geographical features such as natural landmarks or man-made structures.

By understanding these methods and their applications, one can better appreciate the importance of legal descriptions in maintaining order within the realm of real estate transactions.

Importance Of Accurate Property Descriptions

The accurate description of property boundaries and location is essential for various reasons, such as establishing ownership rights, resolving disputes, and determining land value. A legal description provides a clear and precise way to identify a specific piece of land or property in legal documents, such as deeds or mortgage agreements. This level of precision is crucial for ensuring that the rights and responsibilities associated with a particular parcel of land are accurately understood by all parties involved.

One of the main purposes of providing an accurate legal description is to facilitate the transfer of property between parties. When buying or selling property, it is important to have a clear understanding of the exact boundaries and location being transferred. This helps avoid confusion and potential conflicts regarding ownership claims.

Additionally, precise descriptions also play a significant role in calculating property taxes based on factors like land size and location.

Knowing the importance of accurate legal descriptions, it becomes necessary to explore various methods that can be employed for creating these descriptions. By adopting suitable techniques for describing property boundaries and locations, one can ensure that their rights are well-defined, leading to reduced chances of disputes in future transactions.

In the next section, we will delve into different methods used for crafting comprehensive legal descriptions that can successfully establish clear ownership boundaries.

Building upon the importance of accurate property descriptions, a legal description is a vital component in defining property boundaries and location. A legal description is a detailed, written statement that precisely identifies the location and boundaries of a piece of land. It is used in legal documents, such as deeds and mortgages, to establish ownership rights and settle disputes between property owners.

Legal descriptions are essential for ensuring that property rights are protected and transactions can be carried out smoothly. There are four main methods used in creating legal descriptions:

  1. Metes and bounds system: This method uses natural landmarks, man-made structures, or specific distances and directions to define the boundaries of a property.

  2. Rectangular survey system: Also known as the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), this method divides land into a grid of townships and sections using meridians (north-south lines) and baselines (east-west lines).

  3. Subdivision plat maps: These maps show the divisions of a larger tract of land into smaller lots, with each lot assigned a unique identifier.

  1. Reference to recorded documents: In some cases, a legal description may refer to another document, such as a deed or plat map, that has been recorded with the county recorder's office.

Legal descriptions play an integral role in real estate transactions by providing clarity on property boundaries and preventing potential conflicts among neighbors or other parties involved in the transaction process. Accurate legal descriptions ensure that buyers know exactly what they are purchasing while sellers can confidently transfer their ownership rights without any doubts or disputes arising later on.

With this understanding about legal descriptions' significance, it becomes easier to appreciate how various methods like the metes and bounds system contribute to protecting property rights while facilitating smooth transactions.

The Metes And Bounds System

Imagine trying to describe the location and boundaries of a piece of land without using any street names or house numbers. This is exactly what a legal description does, and one of the most commonly used methods for this purpose is known as the metes and bounds system.

The metes and bounds system has been around for centuries, long before modern technology made it easier to pinpoint exact locations. Its origins can be traced back to England, but it was also adopted in the United States during colonial times.

The metes and bounds system uses natural landmarks, such as rivers or trees, as well as man-made features like roads or fences, to define property boundaries. It starts at a designated 'point of beginning' (POB), which serves as the reference point from which all other measurements are taken.

From there, the boundary lines are described by their direction (called 'bearing') and distance (called 'length'). These descriptions may also include angles between lines or curves along the boundaries. The process continues until all sides of the property have been described in detail, ultimately returning to the POB.

Though this method may seem complicated at first glance, it has proven to be an effective way of defining property boundaries over time. However, it is not without its limitations; natural landmarks can change over time due to erosion or other environmental factors, while man-made features might be removed or altered.

This can lead to disputes over property lines among neighboring landowners. As a result, another method known as 'the rectangular survey system' was developed in order to provide a more standardized approach for describing land parcels based on grids and mathematical calculations – offering a complementary alternative for defining property boundaries in various situations.

The Rectangular Survey System

The Rectangular Survey System is a method of defining and locating property boundaries in the United States.

In the early 1800s, this system was developed by the federal government to accurately map out land surveys.

Rectangular Survey System

Imagine a giant grid stretching across the United States, dividing land into neat squares and rectangles. This grid is called the Rectangular Survey System, and it's one of the main ways to describe property boundaries and locations in a legal description.

Accurate description of property boundaries and location is essential for various reasons, such as establishing ownership rights, resolving disputes, and determining land value.

Developed back in 1785, this system was designed to help organize the vast amounts of land being settled in America. It works by using a series of lines called meridians (running north-south) and baselines (running east-west), as well as smaller units like townships and sections, to create a precise set of coordinates for each piece of land.

This makes it much easier for people to understand exactly where their property begins and ends, without having to rely on confusing landmarks or natural features. So next time you look at a map or a legal description, remember that behind all those lines and numbers is an organized system helping us make sense of our world!


The Rectangular Survey System has a rich history that dates back to the early days of the United States.

As settlers began to expand across the country, there was a need for an efficient and accurate way to divide and distribute land.

In response, the Land Ordinance of 1785 was enacted, establishing this unique grid system which would greatly impact how land was organized and managed throughout the nation.

This carefully designed framework not only made it easier to describe property boundaries but also facilitated the growth and development of new communities.

Today, after more than two centuries, the Rectangular Survey System remains an essential part of American land management, showcasing its enduring effectiveness in helping us make sense of our ever-changing landscape.

The Lot And Block System

In the world of real estate, understanding property boundaries and location is essential. One commonly used method to define these aspects is through a legal description. A legal description provides a clear and specific way to locate and identify a piece of land.

Moving on from the Rectangular Survey System, another method for defining property boundaries and locations is the Lot and Block System. The Lot and Block System is widely used in urban areas or when land has been subdivided into smaller parcels. This system organizes property into lots within larger blocks, making it easier for people to find their way around a neighborhood or city.

Key features of this system include:

  • Organized layout: Streets, alleys, and other public spaces divide blocks into individual lots.

  • Unique identification: Each lot within a block receives a unique number.

  • Plat maps: A detailed map called a plat shows the layout of all lots and blocks in an area.

  • Recorded information: Plats are recorded with local government agencies to ensure accurate recordkeeping.

  • Easy reference: Legal descriptions using the Lot and Block System refer to specific lot numbers within defined blocks.

Understanding how properties are organized using the Lot and Block System can make it much easier to determine where one piece of land ends, and another begins. It can help prevent misunderstandings about property lines that might otherwise lead to disputes among neighbors. While this system has its limitations – such as not being as precise as other methods like metes-and-bounds – it remains a popular choice for organizing urban land.

Now that we have explored different ways of defining property boundaries using legal descriptions like the Rectangular Survey System and the Lot and Block System, our next topic delves into resolving disputes that may arise due to unclear property lines.

Resolving Property Line Disputes

A legal description is an important aspect of property ownership, as it precisely defines the boundaries and location of a piece of land. This written description can include information such as lot numbers, street names, dimensions, and reference points. Legal descriptions are vital in various situations, including buying or selling property, obtaining a mortgage or loan, and settling property disputes.

Resolving property line disputes can be a complex process that involves multiple parties and legal procedures. In many cases, the first step to address such conflicts is to consult the legal description of the property in question. This document provides detailed information about the land's boundaries and can help identify any discrepancies between what is recorded and what is physically present on-site.

If discrepancies exist or if neighbors cannot agree on boundary lines based on the legal description alone, then further action may be necessary. One method for resolving property line disputes involves hiring a licensed land surveyor to accurately measure and mark the boundaries as per the legal description. The surveyor's findings can provide clearer insight into where each party's land begins and ends, potentially bringing resolution to the conflict.

If disagreements persist even after consulting a surveyor's report or other supporting documentation like deeds and title records, then mediation or litigation may be required to reach a final resolution. It is essential for all parties involved to understand their rights and responsibilities in these situations while seeking professional guidance when needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

The potential consequences of an inaccurate legal description for property boundaries and location can be both significant and far-reaching.

In some cases, disputes may arise between neighboring property owners, leading to costly legal battles or even the loss of land.

Additionally, errors in boundary and location details can result in financial setbacks due to incorrect tax assessments or mortgage calculations.

Furthermore, discrepancies in these descriptions can hinder the sale or transfer of a property, as prospective buyers may be hesitant to invest in a piece of real estate with unclear boundaries.

Ultimately, ensuring the accuracy of a legal description is essential for maintaining property value and avoiding unnecessary complications related to land ownership.

In a real estate transaction, specific requirements must be met for a legal description to be considered valid.

Legal descriptions play an integral role in real estate transactions by providing clarity on property boundaries and preventing potential conflicts among neighbors.

A valid legal description accurately identifies the property's boundaries and location, using an established survey method such as metes and bounds, rectangular survey system, or lot and block system.

It must be clear, concise, and complete, containing sufficient information to allow a professional surveyor to locate the property on the ground without ambiguity.

Additionally, it should be in compliance with local laws and regulations governing real estate transactions.

Ensuring that a legal description meets these requirements is essential to avoid potential disputes or complications in property ownership and transfers.

To verify the accuracy of a legal description provided by the seller or their agent when purchasing a property, it is essential to consult with a professional surveyor who can review and confirm the details outlined in the description.

Additionally, potential buyers may cross-check the information with public records maintained by county offices, such as the County Recorder or County Assessor, to ensure consistency and correctness.

Obtaining a title report from a reputable title company can also provide valuable insight into any potential discrepancies or issues related to property boundaries and ownership history.

By taking these steps, one can confidently proceed with a real estate transaction knowing that the legal description accurately represents the property being purchased.

It is possible to make changes to a legal description after purchasing a property, but the process requires careful attention and adherence to legal procedures.

To initiate alterations, one must first consult with a land surveyor who can accurately measure and define the property's boundaries. After obtaining an updated survey, the next step involves creating a new legal description that accurately reflects the desired modifications.

This updated document must then be reviewed and approved by local government agencies or authorities responsible for overseeing land records and regulations. Upon securing approval, the new legal description should be recorded in public records to ensure its validity and recognition.

It is important to note that making such changes might also necessitate adjustments to adjacent properties' legal descriptions, so open communication with neighboring property owners is vital throughout the process.

How Do I Determine Which Method Of Property Description (Metes And Bounds, Rectangular Survey, Or Lot And Block) Is Most Appropriate For My Property?

Determining the most appropriate method of property description – metes and bounds, rectangular survey, or lot and block – for a specific property depends on several factors. These factors include the location of the property, its size, shape, and existing legal descriptions in the area.

The metes and bounds method is typically used in regions with irregularly shaped properties or where land has been divided over time without following a consistent grid system.

The rectangular survey method is more suitable for large tracts of land, particularly in rural areas, as it employs a systematic grid layout based on meridians and baselines.

Lastly, the lot and block system is commonly found in urban settings where land has been subdivided into smaller parcels with clearly defined boundaries.

Consulting a professional surveyor or attorney with expertise in real estate law can provide valuable guidance in choosing the most fitting method for describing a particular property's boundaries and location.


In conclusion, a legal description is a crucial component in defining property boundaries and location for real estate transactions.

It serves as the basis for identifying the specific land being transferred, ensuring that both parties are on the same page regarding the property's extent.

It is essential to verify the accuracy of a legal description and understand the methods used to create it.

By doing so, potential disputes and complications can be minimized or avoided entirely, ensuring a smooth and successful real estate transaction for all parties involved.

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