How to Split a Land Parcel

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One of the joys of being a landowner is being able to do what you want with your land. But when it comes to splitting your land into different parcels, you must follow the rules in your jurisdiction to make sure you do it legally.

Benefits of Splitting a Land Parcel

Splitting a land parcel may be a time-consuming process, but there are many benefits to partitioning your land. By doing so, you can split your land into two or more residential lots, depending on the size of the property. This can turn into more profit for you as you rent out or even sell those lots. Selling subdivided land parcels often brings greater value for your property than selling the entire parcel as a whole. Also, if you have a large extended family, splitting your land can allow all of you to live in close proximity to each other.

If you plan to split your land, it’s best to create a rough draft of how the property will be divided. Draw an outline to represent the land parcel that is being split. Then draw division lines on the parcel to represent how it will be divided. If there are measurements that relate to how large each section should be, note those on the map.

Once you have your written plan in place, you’ll need to see if it conforms to your local laws.

Requirements for Splitting a Land Parcel

Each state has its own requirements for what it takes to subdivide a land parcel. There’s also a good chance that the county you’re in has even more requirements, often stalling your plans for a quick subdivision. These requirements can run the gamut and include:

  • The allowable size of the lot.
  • The type of street access available to the lot.
  • Access to water, electricity and other utilities.

Always research your proposed land split to make sure there will be no problems with the way you intend to divide the parcel. There may be local zoning restrictions that affect the way you split the parcel. There may also be deed restrictions that limit the number of times the original parcel can be divided. Identify your local requirements and compare them to the draft of how you propose to split the land. If there is a conflict, you may need to petition local government for permission to modify the rules. Otherwise, you may not be able to proceed.

Planning for Land Subdivision

If you're planning a subdivision, it’s a good idea to hire a licensed surveyor to create a development plan for the land. The surveyor will take accurate measurements of the parcel and the lots it will contain, as well as physically mark the ground with flags to show where the division of property will be. The development plan prepared by the surveyor will also include the written description of each lot in the parcel, which will be used on all legal documents.

In addition to meeting legal requirements, often with the help of a real estate attorney, make sure the plan you create makes sense for where you live. If your plan is to rent or sell your subdivided lots, make sure you make them the size and with the amenities that people will want. If it helps, you can meet with a local real estate agent to get the rundown in your area.

Once this is done, and you have a viable plan in place that meets legal requirements, fill out your municipality’s application to split or divide land. In some places, the form you fill out depends on the type of subdivision you are seeking, such as a family subdivision, a public improvement subdivision or an administrative subdivision. Fill out the appropriate application and submit it with the development plan, as well as any other required documents. In some jurisdictions, you may be asked to surrender the deed to the property as part of the application process.

Once everything is submitted, you must wait for approval before you can proceed with your project. You may have to make some tweaks before proceeding and getting final approval, or you may be given the go ahead from the initial application.

References

About the Author

Leslie Bloom earned a J.D. from U.C. Davis’ King Hall, with a focus on public interest law. She is a licensed attorney who has done advocacy work for children and women. She holds a B.S. in print journalism, and has more than 20 years of experience writing for a variety of print and online publications, including the Journal of Juvenile Law and Policy.