A bill requiring disclosure of a possible split estate condition upon the sale of residential property passed the Colorado Senate on January 24, 2014 in a unanimous vote.
The consumer protection and fracking-awareness bill orders sellers of residential property to disclose to buyers whether the surface of the property may be separately owned from the mineral rights beneath the land.
The bill also requires sellers to disclose any oil and gas-related activity that could possibly occur on or adjacent to the property, including drilling, surveying, oil or gas storage, well completion operations, or gas processing facilities.
The 2009 documentary “Split Estate” by Red Rock Pictures raised awareness of so-called “split estate” situations in which land owners in the Rocky Mountain region were completely unaware that they did not own the mineral rights to property beneath their land or homes. The movie showed families enduring tragedies after drilling operations suddenly sprang up next to their homes, including contamination of domestic water wells and springs, drilling rigs catching fire frighteningly close to their homes, and family members falling desperately ill after exposure to oil and gas exploration operations next to their residences.
Under the bill, the split estate disclosures would have to be listed in bold faced-type on the contract. If it passes the Colorado House and is signed by Governor John Hickenlooper, the measure will take effect just after midnight on August 6, 2014 – 90 days after the Colorado Legislature adjourns for the year.
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