This article will discuss the importance of accretion, the terms reliction and accession, as well as what these terms mean for waterfront property owners.
accretion is a term used in real estate law. It refers to the growth and development of land parcels due to soil buildup. This is usually caused by soil accumulation near the shoreline or ocean. Alluvion may also be called accretion, but this refers to the actual soil buildup and not the process.
Reliction vs. Acretion
Reliction is a term that refers to the growth and development of land by the receding of a body or water, rather than the accumulation of soil along the shoreline. The landowner will usually own the additional land area if it is increased through accretion.
This can be very beneficial for the landowner who has their land increased, but it can also be detrimental to the landowner who has their land decreased. This can sometimes lead to disputes between neighbors if one neighbor has gained more land than the other.
Accumulation does not affect existing rights of passage. Rights of way are legal rights that allow individuals to pass through a property without being impeded.
Contrary to accretion erosion is the shrinkage or loss of land parcels due to the erosion of soil along a shoreline. Erosion can take months to years and is usually slow. Land lost to erosion can be permanently damaged depending on the local environmental laws and zoning.
Accretion vs. Erosion and Avulsion
Avulsion, which is different from erosion, occurs when erosion or accretion happens very quickly. This usually happens as a result of a severe storm such as a hurricane. Avulsion can usually be claimed by the landowner. This gives them the right, without the need for a permit, to reclaim or replenish the land. The landowner does not usually have any ownership rights to additional land created by avulsion.
The Jurisdiction determines which regulations govern accretion, reliction, accession and revulsion.
Different federal, state and local regulations govern accretion, reliction and accession. In some areas, an accretion-related land parcel may be considered the landowner’s property, while it might not in others.
In Florida, for example, land that is the result of accretion due to the lowering water level caused by state activity becomes the property the owner of the adjoining property. The state can purchase the land at a fair price from the owner.
Property owners can find all of these environmental phenomena to be very important. They can have a significant impact on the value of residential and commercial properties, increase the cost of property insurance or flood insurance, or can impact their ability to obtain financing. Many lawsuits have been filed regarding accretion and religion, accession, erosion, and the avulsion.
All of these terms refer to water bodies and can be categorized under the “riparian rights” category. Riparian rights are the rights of property owners as well as members of the public regarding land that borders navigable waterways. These rights include egress or ingress, as also bathing, boating and fishing.