Modern Land Patents
In theory, all land in the state has been patented. However, because of survey errors or land simply not being included in an original patent, some land may be legally vacant. Land is not vacant simply because it is no longer on the property tax assessment rolls or because it does not have a current deed reference. For land to be vacant for the purposes of applying for a land patent, it must meet the legal definition of vacant land, viz., "land for which a patent never has been issued."
A vacancy is found by a title search back through deeds, probate records, equity court cases, surveys and patent records to the earliest surveys and patents in the area in which the alleged vacancy is located. If land is found that is not included in a patent, it may meet the legal definition of vacant land.
Before applying for a land patent, you should be reasonably certain that the land meets the legal definition of vacant land. Generally, this can best be determined by a title search on the adjoining properties which have current deed references. In your research, you will no doubt review other types of land, survey and court records.
In conducting your title search, you are encouraged to check
land, survey and court records kept in the circuit court and older
survey and court records and the Land Office records kept at the
State Archives. Staff archivists will be happy to assist you with your
research at the Archives.
The land patent process also provides for the repatenting of land which is owned in fee simple by a person and therefore has been previously patented. This option allows fee simple property owners the opportunity, in certain instances, to clarify the extent of that fee simple ownership. The applicant must present evidence that he is the fee simple owner and that the land has been patented.
The land patent process provides safeguards for the legal rights of the applicant, adjoining property owners and others who may have an interest in the land. The Commissioner of Land Patents is required to notify adjoining property owners and others that a warrant to survey or resurvey has been issued. The adjoining property owners and others may file objections to the issuance of a land patent. A public hearing is held to determine the merits of the applicant's evidence and the issues raised by objectors.
If you have any questions regarding these matters, would like to apply for a warrant to survey or would like to object to the issuance of a land patent, please contact the Commissioner of Land Patents, Hall of Records Building, 350 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis, Maryland 21401 (phone: (410) 260-6400 or Maryland toll free 800-235-4045; TTY/Voice 800-735-2258; fax 410-974-3895; e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org; Internet address: http://msa.maryland.gov/)
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