Bulletin: FL000115

Date:
September 14, 2006
To:
All Florida Offices and Agents
RE:
Southern States Land & Timber Notices Pursuant to F.S. Section 704.05 Surface Rights in Oil, Gas and Mineral Reservations

Dear Associates:

Please use caution when asked to insure title of property containing in the chain a Notice of Interest to preserve surface exploration rights in all gas and mineral reservations. In particular, Southern States Land & Timber LLC ("Southern States") has filed such notices in Florida counties such as Palm Beach County and Martin County, claiming rights in all gas and minerals. Southern States filed several such notices at the end of June, 2006, an excerpt of one is attached.

If you encounter a chain of title with a Notice of Interest recorded by Southern States, further examination is needed to determine whether Southern States has issued a release of the oil, gas and mineral reservation or the surface rights in the reservation on certain properties. A close examination may reveal they merely released their surface exploration rights. Recent releases provided by Southern States appear to be limited releases of the surface exploration rights that apply only to the period of time in which the applicant for the release actually holds title to the subject property. In these particular limited releases, once the current owner transfer title, surface exploration rights are apparently intended to re-vest. Consequently, exercise care when relying on releases of surface exploration rights from Southern States. An example of a limited release of surface exploration rights can be found in the Agreement recorded June 19, 2006, at Official Records Book 20495, Page 156 of the Public Records of Palm Beach County, Florida.

If your title examination discloses that the subject property is affected by an oil, gas and mineral reservation in favor of Southern States that has not been fully released, exception must be taken for the reservation. The following guidelines should be followed:

  1. If the surface rights in the reservations have been released in full, the exception for the reservation should describe in detail the Agreement releasing the surface exploration rights, including the date recorded and the Official Records Book and Page where the Agreement is recorded.

  2. If the release of surface rights was a limited release, as described above, the exception should instead provide that the surface rights in the reservation were released subject to re-vesting at a later date pursuant to Agreement recorded _____ at Official Records Book _____, Page _____.

The following requirement must be included on Schedule B, Section 1 of the commitment, if we are asked to issue, or expect to be asked to issue, a Florida Form 9, 9.1 or 9.2 Endorsement on the transaction and the oil, gas and mineral reservation in favor of Southern States has not been released in full:

"In order to issue an unmodified Florida Form 9, 9.1 or 9.2 Endorsement with the final Policy(ies), the Company will require a release of the surface rights associated with the mineral reservation described in Item _____ of Schedule B-Section 2."

If you are contacted in connection with an existing Stewart Title Guaranty Company policy on property that may be subject to a Southern States reservation, you may refer the caller to your local underwriter.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
None
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None