Minnesota Land Transfers

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Revised Minnesota statute (272.162) gives counties the same power as municipalities and townships to review land divisions and transfers. This power is most often used to deny inaccurate land transfers or illegal subdivisions. This law will help the state better conform with land regulations and result in landowners receiving additional protections.

Before this law was implemented, county recorders were required to record a document even if it created an illegal subdivision. The old system consequently created difficulties in resolving the subdivision violations that were created by a document. Because Minnesota land transfers can occur in one of several ways, it is important for individuals in Minnesota who own land to understand how covenants, easements, and licenses work. This article will examine some of the various grants about the ability to use land and how these elements are affected by transferring the ownership of property.


A covenant is a written contract by which property owners either agree to do or not do something with the land. A covenant is said to be positive if it requires property owners to do something, while a covenant is found to be negative if it prohibits parties from doing something. In many cases, covenants are used to create uniformity among houses or pieces of property that are located in the same area. Because covenants help to preserve the quality of home developments, these tools are helpful in preserving the value of property. Some covenants can also be “in gross” which means that the covenant expires when the property is transferred, while other covenants can “run with the land” which means the covenants still apply even if there is a new owner of the property.


Existing in non-written or written form, easements allow a person to use the property of another person for a specific purpose. Easements can be either positive or negative in nature. While positive easements let a person do something on that land, a negative easement prevents a property owner from doing something. While many easements do not last through a property transfer, other easements do survive this type of change in land ownership.


A license gives a property owner permission to use property for a specific purpose. These grants can be created in several ways including providing oral permission or a written contract that lists the date on which the rights will expire. While many individuals confuse licenses with leases, a license does not carry the right to exclude a person from the property. In many cases, licenses are revocable, which means that they can be denied by the person who granted the license. As a result, licenses often do not last between property grants.

Speak with a Knowledgeable Attorney

If you need assistance with a land transfer or one of the other complicated areas of real estate law, a seasoned attorney at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Attorneys can be particularly helpful. Attorney Dean Rindy understands the many complicated issues that can arise with property in the state of Minnesota. Contact our law office today for assistance by calling Dean Rindy at 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002.