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Do you own your land into the depths?

Buying land or property often feels like simply buying a flat plane. You are paying for the surface of that land. Maybe you want to build a home. Maybe you want to begin farming. No matter how you’re planning to use it, that’s the area that you’re buying.

However, there has been an old saying in the world of real estate for a long time, claiming that you really own that section of the known world down into the “depths of hell” and up “into the heavens.” You’re buying far more than the surface. It extends indefinitely both up and down. But, as often as this saying gets repeated, is that really how it works?

To a degree, it definitely is, though there are limits. For instance, if someone is flying a drone 50 feet over your house, you can argue that it is on your property even though it never touches the ground. However, if a commercial airliner flies over your house, you can’t claim that the airline was trespassing.

This issue is often complicated when considering what is below the surface. You do own the land going down under the property if you hold the mineral rights. Because of the spherical nature of the world, you clearly can’t own it indefinitely, but you can control who can mine on the property. However, mineral rights and general property rights sometimes differ, so it is also possible to own the surface and not the underground area.

If you find yourself in a debate over these important points, you need to make sure you understand your legal options.


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