Just because you own the land your house is on doesn't mean you also own what's below the surface. In Florida, surface property rights are separate from subsurface rights. The term "mineral rights" refers to the subsurface rights, according to the Florida Geological Survey, which notes that mineral rights are treated like real property rights. Several Florida laws address the subject of mineral rights.
Florida Statute 704.05 states that the owner of the mineral rights can legally enter the property to mine the subsurface. When you buy property, if the purchase included mineral rights, it is called "fee simple." But if ownership of the surface and subsurface property is severed, the subsurface property is owned by someone else and that land can be bought and sold just like any other real estate. The deed should indicate whether the surface and subsurface property ownership is severed. The title insurance policy and county property records may also record mineral rights.
Chapter 712:04 of the Florida Statutes states that if the mineral rights owner has not filed a proper notice with the state, the owner loses his right to access the subsurface property. The mineral rights owner still owns the subsurface, but can't get access to it from the surface. The mineral rights owner, however, may still be able to drill into the subsurface from an adjoining property.
For many years, when the state sold public land to a private owner, the state would routinely insert that the mineral rights remained with the state. However, in 1986, the state Legislature passed Section 270.11, which ended that practice for properties of less than 20 acres, according to an article by Orlando attorney Frank L. Pohl.
- salt mining image by jesse welter from Fotolia.com