HARRISBURG – Legislation to assist landowners who, through no fault of their own, cannot gain ownership of their subsurface mineral, oil and gas rights, has been approved today by the Senate, according to State Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), the bill’s sponsor.
Senate Bill 1324 would amend the Action to Quiet Title law in Pennsylvania to provide for a ‘rebuttable presumption’ that mineral, oil and gas rights have been abandoned in favor of a surface owner after a 50 year period of nonuse.
“The legal principle known as an Action to Quiet Title has been an integral part of Pennsylvania law for at least 100 years,” Yaw said. “Senate Bill 1324 simply gives the surface owner, after 50 years, a slight advantage at the start of a court case to clarify the ownership question. This bill does not change the fact that the plaintiff landowner still must prove his case, in court, by a preponderance of the evidence just as the plaintiff can, and is required, to do today.”
The legislation was amended in committee to exempt fee interests, including deeds and long-term leases for coal and other minerals and oil and gas reserved or acquired by a duly recorded conveyance. In addition, the amendment further defined the “exercise of subsurface rights.”
“I have had numerous constituents contact me regarding title problems with their subsurface rights, which go back well over 100 years,” Yaw added. Senate Bill 1324 takes nothing away from any subsurface owner, who has a legitimate ownership interest. Anyone who has such an interest would need to deliberately ignore all of the notice provisions in the law in order to be negatively impacted.”
Contact: Nick Troutman