Search Site
Menu
Office Buildings vs. Oil Wells

For several years now, The Woodlands, Texas has been booming for real estate in general and for commercial development in particular.  Even before that time it was an active area for companies exploring and producing oil and gas.  This combination can cause commercial developers significant issues not typically encountered elsewhere.

In the state of Texas, mineral ownership is referred to as the “dominant estate” with surface ownership conversely the “servient estate”.  What this translates to as a default for property ownership is that the mineral owner has a right to utilize as much of the surface as reasonably necessary to explore for and develop the minerals.

Fortunately Texas does provide some protections for a surface owner, including some municipal and statutory ordinances and with the most heavily debated protection being in the form of The Accommodation Doctrine.  The Accommodation Doctrine first came into existence in a 1971 lawsuit and, despite multiple legal cases attempting to solidify its application, has generally been narrowly defined and difficult for surface owners to use to their benefit.  Recently, in 2013 the Texas Supreme Court re-visited this doctrine resulting in only slight clarifications.

Essentially under the current interpretation of the Accommodation Doctrine, the surface owner must provide evidence that (1) the mineral owner’s use completely impairs the existing surface use and (2) there is no reasonable, alternate method for the mineral owner to access the minerals and still permit the existing surface use.  Unfortunately, for commercial developers purchasing an empty tract without an established “existing use”, there is no protection from the Accommodation Doctrine.  In addition, it has become the burden of the surface owner to prove up these arguments in order to have the protection of The Accommodation Doctrine.

Fortunately, commercial developers performing due diligence at the time of purchase have several options that provide a more solid solution than later reliance on the Accommodation Doctrine.  These options include securing Surface Waivers from the mineral estate owner and/or specific title policy endorsements which insure against the risk of surface damage by a mineral estate owner.  Completing proper title due diligence costs a tiny fraction of the purchase price for a multi-million dollar development and can mean a huge difference in the outcome of a successful development.

Mineral rights in Texas can present unique issues for commercial developers. Understanding the scope of the mineral owner’s rights to use the surface estate and taking the actions necessary to mitigate the potential risks should be part of every developer’s due diligence activities.

The Strong Firm P.C.

Phone Number: 281-367-1222

Fax Number: 281-210-1361

[email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact a Dedicated Texas Business Lawyer To Schedule a Consultation
Call 281-367-1222 or contact us online to schedule a meeting.

Strong In Action

  • Spring 2019

    The Strong Firm represents borrower in $42.3 million HUD construction loan for multifamily real estate development in Walton County, Florida.

    Read More
  • Spring 2019

    The Strong Firm acts as legal counsel for borrower in $32.1 million HUD construction loan for multifamily real estate development in Conroe, Texas.

    Read More
  • Spring 2019

    The Strong Firm aids borrower in $31.7 million HUD construction loan for multifamily real estate development in Nueces County, Texas.

    Read More
  • Spring 2019

    The Strong Firm represents borrower in the refinancing of a $3.57 million commercial mortgage-backed security for a commercial office facility in Montgomery County, Texas.

    Read More
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  • Peer Rated 2019 Award

Recent Blog Posts

Legislation Authorizes Paid Sick Leave for Workers Suffering from Coronavirus

New legislation passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic allows certain workers to receive paid sick leave even if their employer previously did not provide it. In March, the federal government enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This law assists employers that give their employees paid time off
Read More
Legislation Authorizes Paid Sick Leave for Workers Suffering from Coronavirus

Lenders Suspend Home Foreclosures Due to COVID-19, But What Happens Next?

Many large financial institutions are suspending foreclosures because of the massive economic damage caused by COVID-19. Some banks have stopped proceedings indefinitely. Others have set time limits for foreclosure suspensions such as 60 or 90 days. Even as health and financial issues remain uncertain, this is a good time for
Read More
Lenders Suspend Home Foreclosures Due to COVID-19, But What Happens Next?

How Can I Create Estate Planning Documents During the Pandemic?

Even in its first few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic caused many people to examine or reassess what is most important to them. The need to prepare in case of an emergency or untimely death has been highlighted by the tragic losses occurring around the country. What can you do if
Read More
How Can I Create Estate Planning Documents During the Pandemic?

Complying with Corporate Annual Meeting Requirements during the COVID-19 Quarantine

How do you hold a corporate annual meeting when the entire country is in lockdown? On the surface, it might seem like a simple matter of using a favorite video conferencing tool and perhaps checking to see if it’s been hacked. Annual meetings for corporations are more than get-togethers. They
Read More
Complying with Corporate Annual Meeting Requirements during the COVID-19 Quarantine
  • Video Vault


    Watch videos done by our legal team to gain a better understanding of your legal needs. Our lawyers give video insight into areas such as Real Estate, Business Law, Mergers & Acquisitions and much more.

Pay Retainer Online

Use our easy-to-use and secure online payment feature.
We accept all major credit cards.

Pay Your Retainer

Contact us

Quick Contact Form