When purchasing property, it is likely that one of the documents you come across will be the plat of the property that you’ve purchased. Plats are useful tools in land planning and have been used to map and describe land and everything located on that land including lots, roads, and property boundaries. Understanding what a plat is can be helpful when you are purchasing real property that is subject to a plat.
First, why would someone choose to plat property at all? Platting provides a number of benefits to real property owners that could otherwise be more cumbersome. Sometimes when subdividing property into a certain amount of lots, local government regulations will require that it is platted. Since the platting process is done cooperatively with local governments, the lots created by the plat will be compliant with the local government’s zoning and land development regulations. This can include minimum lot sizes, lot geometry, and lot density (density meaning the number of lots allowed per acre of land). Therefore, future purchasers of the lot won’t have to worry about their lot not conforming to local government regulations.
There are other benefits that platting property can provide. Platting can ensure that every lot created within a plat has access to a publicly or privately maintained road so that each lot owner has access to their respective lot. It can create easements that are essential to provide electric utilities, water utilities, stormwater management, or sanitary sewer services to each lot. Platting also creates new legal descriptions for the lots, making the transfer of lots to future owners a more efficient process.
In addition to local land development regulations, platting is also highly regulated by Florida law. Section 177, Florida Statutes, regulates platting in the State of Florida. Just a few of these regulations include the naming of plats, qualifications and statements required on plats, procedures for receiving approval on plats, and dedication requirements.
Platting is a multi-disciplinary process that will sometimes require real property owners to engage the services of a surveyor, engineer, and attorney just to complete a plat. Each party must work in concert with local government officials in order to make sure every single local and state law is followed before a plat can be recorded in the public records. The requirements mentioned above are just a few of the many requirements necessary to record a final plat. As always, if you have questions about a plat, or think you may need to plat your own property, the best course of action is to speak with a local attorney about the best path forward.
Zachary Brown is an attorney with the law firm Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A. in Lakeland. Questions can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.