When You Buy Lakefront You are Officially a "Riparian"


 You won't find the word riparian in any Webster's Dictionary before 1990. In the scientific world, a riparian can be anything inhabiting or just sitting on the bank of a lake, river, stream, ocean, etc. In the world of lakefront ownership riparian refers to the legal rights of a lakefront or riverfront owner.
These legal rights include such things as fishing, using the lake water for irrigation, placing a pier, etc.  Riparian land refers to the land located on the bank of a river or lake, etc. And, a riparian zone is the area/ecosystem butting up to a body of water that affects the overall health of the lake or river. This zone has a direct impact on the lake's ecosystem and provides protection to the body of water. Its plant life filters out pollutants before they get to the lake, and the abutting plants' root systems protect the shoreline from erosion. This zone can also be referred to as a buffer area. But, this label is generally reserved for wetlands where the plant life is heavily influenced by water. Another common term for this type of zone or buffer is a vegetated buffer.

As a lakefront owner, you have riparian rights. A title company would refer to these rights as more of an abstract concept. After you buy the lakefront real estate, you possess these rights by law, state statutes. Riparian rights aren't given to you when you buy the lakefront/riverfront property; they are more unalienable in nature and can't be taken away because they are protected by the law. You have the right to make reasonable use of the lake. You may be able to do things such as rent a boat slip or a buoy, rent your boat, etc. But, you cannot sell or transfer your riparian rights. As a lakefront property owner you also have the right to accretion. For example, if a lake is washing up sand onto your shoreline and creates a beach, you now have a beach.

What is actually meant by reasonable use? Of course, you can fish, boat, swim, and place a pier and boat lift. These are all reasonable uses of the lakefront. In general, your reasonable riparian rights refer to activities that are equal to the activities of your adjacent neighbors.  If you have any questions as to what all of your riparian rights are, please contact your state. You don't want to just assume you have the right to perform a particular activity in question just because you saw your neighbor doing it. Your state has the right to regulate every activity. In some states, you may actually lose certain rights if you do something unlawful. Do your homework and find out before you take action.