A BOUNDS ONLY DESCRIPTION:
A bounds only description calls out the owners surrounding the parcel of land to be described. It really doesn’t describe the property; it only describes the lands surrounding the property.
A very simple bounds description is a follows:
THAT PORTION OF THE NORTHWEST QUARTER OF SECTION 16, IN TOWNSHIP 42 NORTH, RANGE 10 EAST OF THE THIRD PRINCIPAL MERIDIAN IN DUPAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS; DESCRIBED AS FOLLOWS: BOUNDED ON THE SOUTH BY RAND ROAD; BOUNDED ON THE EAST BY THE LAND OF SMITH; BOUNDED ON THE NORTH BY THE LAND OF JONES AND THOMAS; BOUNDED ON THE WEST BY THE LAND OF WHITE.
The above legal description would be very hard to research and survey. To write a proper bounds description, you need to call out the full name of the owner of each of the surrounding properties. You would also be more accurate if you would call out the deed number and when it was recorded. You must remember that land ownership changes, the more information you can provide, the easier it will be to survey later on.
I don’t believe most counties would accept a bounds only description. It would be difficult to fit into their GIS systems. Most counties would prefer a metes and bounds descriptions to make sure that the boundary lines close on themselves.
A LOT AND BLOCK DESCRIPTION:
The next description we will discuss is a Lot and Block description in a recorded subdivision. This is perhaps the simplest type of description. There are 8 different criteria needed in this type of description. They are listed below:
A.) A lot or parcel number, this can be a number or letter
B.) A block number, this is used when having more than one block in a subdivision
C.) Subdivision Name, there must not be a duplication of subdivision names to avoid confusion
D.) City or Village (if any)
E.) Township, Parish, or Borough and what county it’s in
F.) What state is it in?
G.) Map recordation. Book and Page with correct designation for the map book, Date and Recording Document Number
H.) What type of public office holds the records? (Recorder’s Office, Clerk or Court, Probate Judge, etc.)
The description can read as follows:
LOT 1 IN BLOCK 2 OF THE SMITH SUBDIVISION, BEING A SUBDIVISION IN THE NORTHWEST QUARTER OF SECTION 20. IN TOWNSHIP 42 NORTH, RANGE 10 EAST OF THE THIRD PRINCIPAL MERIDIAN, IN DUPAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS.
The above legal description is perfectly acceptable. You could, however, add more information. The same legal description can be written as follows to add more descriptive information.
LOT 1 IN BLOCK 2 OF THE SMITH SUBDIVISION, BEING A SUBDIVISION IN THE NORTHWEST QUARTER OF SECTION 20. IN TOWNSHIP 42 NORTH, RANGE 10 EAST OF THE THIRD PRINCIPAL MERIDIAN, RECORDED IN BOOK 10, ON PAGE 127, ON JANUARY 10,1996 AS DOCUMENT NUMBER R96-127421, IN DUPAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS.
You may sometimes run into conflicts with title companies, lawyers and government officials on this simplest type of legal description. My basic rule of thumb is the simple question, does this legal description only a single parcel of land in the world? If it does, leave it alone. There is no need to add extra words or phrases.
I have always taught the people working with me that the easiest way to write this description is to obtain and examine a recorded copy of the subdivision plat. On that copy you will find the title of the plat. You start by writing “Lot ____ in Block _____ (if blocks are used, most cities or villages require consecutively numbered lots to avoid confusion) in you then add the subdivision title. The next piece of information you need is found in the paragraph following the title. This is sometimes called the short legal. This will also give you the information that you will need for Section, Township, and Range. The other information that you need will be contained in the certificates recorded with the plat. Sometimes they will be found on a separate page called a “certificate page”. Note: Please get all pages of a recorded plat. There is much other information to be found in a subdivision plat in paragraph form. Easement provisions, building setback lines, school districts, who is the controlling governmental agency for this subdivision. The full written legal description can sometimes help if you can’t read something on the perimeter of the subdivision. On the certificate page there should be a certificate for the county recorder. They will usually fill this out with the following information:
1. What time it was recorded
2. What day it was recorded
3. Book and Page
4. Recorded Document Number
Please see the example attached for a short legal description and a recorder’s stamp.
A lawyer, Title Company or an out of state lender will sometimes request a lot and block description to also want to include a metes and bounds description calling out bearings and distances along the perimeter of the property. Don’t do it! The bearings and distances can only confuse a title company when they are insuring the property. You can show differences on the face of your plat but don’t revise a lot and block description.
A STRIP DESCRIPTION
The next description is a strip description. This description is used for a strip of land that crosses one or many parcels of land. This is most commonly used for an easement of some sort. There are various ways to call out a strip easement. Here are five examples:
1. A strip of land 50 feet wide, the centerline of which is described as follows:
2. An easement for road purposes 40 feet wide lying 20 feet on each side of the following described line:
3. A strip of land 75 feet wide lying 25 feet north and 50 feet south of the following described line:
4. A strip of land 75 feet wide lying 25 feet northerly, northwesterly, and westerly and 50 feet southerly, southeasterly, and easterly of the
following described line:
5. A strip of land 50 feet wide the perimeter of which is described as follows: You would follow with a metes and bounds description around
the perimeter of an easement.
The first four examples cited above, the portion before the phrases “described as follows:” and “Following described line:” become the caption for the body of the description. The body would then become very similar to a metes and bounds description. You could use angles bearings, and distances, along with line calls just like any other description. The difference would be that this description does not return to the Point of Beginning. The strip easement usually will end at the terminus of the easement.
When describing an easement that is temporary, you must have a statement (usually in the caption) to state the termination date of the temporary portion of the easement.
A special strip description that has multiple parcels branching off of it is described below: I have enclosed the full description and an example of an exhibit to go along with it.
An easement 20 feet wide across that portion of Lots 1, 2, 3, and 4 in the Smith Subdivision, being a subdivision of that portion of the Southwest quarter of Section 10, Township 42 North, Range 10 East of the Third Principal Meridian recorded December 10, 1996 as document Number R96-174271 in DuPage County, Illinois the centerline of which is described as follows: Commencing at the West Quarter corner of said Section 10, being a Harrison Fero magnetic monument; Thence South 00 degrees 54 minutes West, a distance of 389.42 feet along the West line of said Section being also the centerline of Grant Street; Thence South 89 degrees 06 minutes 00 seconds East, a distance of 20.00 feet to the Point of Beginning, on the East line of Grant Street; Thence South 51 degrees 17 minutes 00 seconds east, a distance of 364.00 feet to the Point A; Thence South 51 degrees 17 minutes 00 seconds East, a distance of 189.68 feet; thence South 89 degrees 06 minutes 00 seconds East, a distance of 158.00 feet to Point B; Thence South 89 degrees 06 minutes 00 seconds East, a distance of 206.00 feet to Point C; Thence North 58 degrees 32 minutes 00 seconds east, a distance of 458.62 feet to the terminus of this 20 foot wide easement, together with:
Parcel A: A 10 foot wide easement the Centerline of which begins at the hereinabove described Point A; Thence South 89 degrees 06 minutes 00 seconds east, a distance of 289.00 feet to the Terminus of this 10 foot wide easement.
Parcel B: A 6 foot wide easement the Centerline of which begins at the hereinabove described Point B: Thence North 00 degrees 54 minutes 00 seconds west, a distance of 100.00 feet, to the Terminus of this 6 foot wide easement.
Parcel C: An 8 foot wide easement the Centerline of which begins at the hereinabove described Point C: Thence North 00 degrees 54 minutes 00 seconds East, a distance of 19.00 feet, to the Terminus of this 8 foot wide easement.
The sidelines of said 20 foot easement to be extended or shortened to meet at angle points and to
terminate at the East line of Grant Street.
The description above is very versatile easement description. It allows us to describe the main easement
as being 20 foot in width. It also describes three easements that branch off of the main easement in three
different spots, with three different easement widths.
Lee Koehler, PLS is a Professional Land Surveyor for Hamilton Consulting Engineers, Inc. and can be reached at 815-730-3444.