Before touching on the current status of Riparian Rights and its recent effect on Title Insurer’s, lets define such. Under the riparian principle, all landowners whose property is adjoining to a body of water have the right to make reasonable use of it. If there is not enough water to satisfy all users, allotments are generally fixed in proportion to frontage on the water source. These rights cannot be sold or transferred other than with the adjoining land, and water cannot be transferred out of the watershed.
Riparian rights include such things as the right to access for swimming, boating and fishing; the right to wharf out to a point of navigability; the right to erect structures such as docks, piers, and boat lifts; the right to use the water for domestic purposes; the right to accretions caused by water level fluctuations. Riparian rights also depend upon “reasonable use” as it relates to other riparian owners to ensure that the rights of one riparian owner are weighed fairly and equitably with the rights of adjacent riparian owners. (Guerin, K. (2003). Property Rights and Environmental Policy:)
NJ Title Insurer’s have seen a high increase in title insurance claims based on riparian rights and exceptions not not made on the ALTA New Jersey Title Insurance policy.