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Riparian Water Rights- NJ

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
This has been discussed before but I am wondering about the laws on riparian water rights in NJ.
We were fishing a good size lake today from a canoe that branches off into another section. A guy in a new house on the lake said he owns that section and we couldn't be on the water (Mind you we fished this lake for 6 years before he built his house with no problems). The entire lake it connected and there are woods and some houses surrounding the banks.
We said he doesn't own the water, only the land where his house is on it and we have permission to access the lake from our friends on the other side. He said that wasn't true and that he owns a large section of land around the lake near his house AND a section of the lake itself. When we didn't move far enough away from his house, he actually paddled a canoe over to us and told us where he owned the lake to.
He threatened to call the cops on us at which point we decided to drop it and move.

Can you actually own a section of a lake in NJ, or is this guy just a total J/O.

I'd love to hear from property attorney on this one if there are any here.
post #2 of 22
Ripatian rights deal with moving water, this pond probably falls under Littoral rights and yes he probably owns the water that he says he does. If you really got a problem with this guy I can look it up on a tax map and tell you where the property line is in the water.
post #3 of 22
I'm not an attorney so take this how ever you want

It is possible that he owns the section of lake that you were on
especially if it was a man-made lake.

Check the local tax maps AND THEN the most updated deed at the
county level.

If he is a NEW property owner after the land became a lake the deed
will have an easement that "runs with the land" and then yes he owns it
and pays property taxes on it. Most of the time when a property changes
ownership the new owner is required to "dedicate" the land that is now
water to the township or other local governing body.
post #4 of 22
He has to have the rights to the water in his deed. If it connects to a larger river that connects to the ocean, then its a navigable body, thus he cant own it. PM me if you want, ive been taking a Marine Affairs class on coastal law all semester.

Also, look up adverse possession, easement by percription. If it is his land and you have been using it for set period of time, it can become public land. He has to allow you to continue use of it. This also works with actually making it your land, but only on land based cases.

My teacher is a nonpracticing lawyer. Hes argued cases for the supreme court, stopped oil drilling wars at sea in Africa, has a section in the RI constitution, basically hes the man. I'll ask him if you want if you give me the details.
post #5 of 22
There is one other point to be taken - If the state in any way stocks the lake then his claim to own the water is moot point. He may own it but by state law he cannot refuse you boat access to it.
There is a lake here in Central Jersey that for years was stocked by the state and all had access to it via a publicly owned path on the East end of the lake. Several years ago the property at the west end of the lake was purchased and they put up one of those 12 room McMansions. Along with the house came no trespassing signs that extended out more than 30 feet onto the lake. The owner was nice at first, telling people that they could not take their boats into the area that he owned but within a month he was calling the police on a daiy basis.
The police gave out a couple of tickets people fishing from boats for trespassing on this guys part of the lake. Someone decided to fight the ticket and got a lawyer. Turns out the lake was stocked by the state and the rulling came down that although the guy owned the lake bottom and the water over it he could not prevent people from fishing from a boat on it.
post #6 of 22
Thanks for the helpful info 8ball.
I was wondering about your signature, should that be a quote or just incorrect translation?
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Team Mayhem View Post
He has to have the rights to the water in his deed. If it connects to a larger river that connects to the ocean, then its a navigable body, thus he cant own it. PM me if you want, ive been taking a Marine Affairs class on coastal law all semester.

Also, look up adverse possession, easement by percription. If it is his land and you have been using it for set period of time, it can become public land. He has to allow you to continue use of it. This also works with actually making it your land, but only on land based cases.

My teacher is a nonpracticing lawyer. Hes argued cases for the supreme court, stopped oil drilling wars at sea in Africa, has a section in the RI constitution, basically hes the man. I'll ask him if you want if you give me the details.


He has his rights to the water for his use which I agree with..but can he prevent others from their rights to use the water also? We are accessing the lake from another property with the owners permission. I didn't think this guy could actually claim a section of the water itself as his land and prevent us from boating on it.

Also,
The lake is landlocked but has a small creek which eventually drains into other lakes, and eventually to the ocean. It is not tidal though.
post #8 of 22
I don't think he can own the water itself. As long as you aren't blocking his access to the water or causing harm to him somehow i think your fine. Also, if he doesn't want you on the water, how does he plan kick you off if you're in a boat?
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Team Mayhem View Post
I don't think he can own the water itself. As long as you aren't blocking his access to the water or causing harm to him somehow i think your fine. Also, if he doesn't want you on the water, how does he plan kick you off if you're in a boat?


He came out on his canoe at one point actually, and also threatened to call the cops. I guess they would get us when we came ashore.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by bido View Post
He came out on his canoe at one point actually, and also threatened to call the cops. I guess they would get us when we came ashore.


Sounds like a dickhead. I have my law class on Tuesday, ill bring in your post to him and ask him what you can do.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
PM sent...thanks would be interested in hearing what your prof has to say.
post #12 of 22
Aren't rich, selfish jerks great?
post #13 of 22

im late but i can clear this up for you.  lake front owners own out to the deepest part of the lake. this way all properties with water front will have access to the lake in  a case of extreme low water conditions. this said though all lake owners have use to all the water and his property rights stop at the edge of water. it is not a riparian issue because it is non tidal. hope this helps if not contact your locale land surveyor

"those who do not defend their land deserve to lose it"

post #14 of 22
I'm 90% sure that he can't actually own the water. As long as you access it from public land or land where you are allowed access (your friends house) and you stay in the canoe (ie you never step foot on his property) he doesn't have a leg to stand on. You could always just flip canoe the next time he paddles out too lol.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by bido View Post

This has been discussed before but I am wondering about the laws on riparian water rights in NJ.
We were fishing a good size lake today from a canoe that branches off into another section. A guy in a new house on the lake said he owns that section and we couldn't be on the water (Mind you we fished this lake for 6 years before he built his house with no problems). The entire lake it connected and there are woods and some houses surrounding the banks.
We said he doesn't own the water, only the land where his house is on it and we have permission to access the lake from our friends on the other side. He said that wasn't true and that he owns a large section of land around the lake near his house AND a section of the lake itself. When we didn't move far enough away from his house, he actually paddled a canoe over to us and told us where he owned the lake to.
He threatened to call the cops on us at which point we decided to drop it and move.

Can you actually own a section of a lake in NJ, or is this guy just a total J/O.

I'd love to hear from property attorney on this one if there are any here.

Bido are you talking about a lake in northern ocean county, i frequent a lake  that is owned by the town, a homeowner in a newer home has installed no trespassing signs IN the water . He said a game warden  told him to put them in. I have yet to  call the twsp. on it . i will today, I will post the results.

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