To start off with, a legal property description is not a simple address (you already knew that of course, given the title of this article!). If you were given a legal property description (LPD) and a driving map, you’d probably have a very difficult time finding the property. This is because LPDs typically speak in the language of county recorder offices, and not in the common directional parlance of everyday life.
The technical definition of a legal property description (also referred to as a “Land Description,” “Property Description,” or “Land Boundary Description”) is: a written statement recognized by law as to the definite location of a track of land by reference to a survey, recorded map or adjoining property.
If you’re taking advantage of the project research provided by Levelset’s Scout Team, you may have seen a suggestion for the Legal Property Description (LPD) associated with a particular project location that looks something like this:
Property located at the municipal address of 1313 Mockingbird Lane, Mockingbird Heights CA 90043., In the county of LOS ANGELES, CA., Legally described as S24, T04 S, R17 E, N2N2, SW4NW4., APN 31-0313-66-3-01-01-0000., Municipality / Township of MOCKINGBIRD HEIGHTS., Township/Range/Section 3S-13-66., Census Tract 3665.00.
These legal property descriptions describe the property in a very particular manner (for recording and transfer purposes) and are associated with a particular parcel. That particular parcel is based on the project address you give us, the project nickname, and other information you provide to us.
But wait? Your project address is 1313 Mockingbird Lane, but Scout found an LPD that appeared to be related to 1321 Mockingbird Lane? Or 120 Canary Street? Or, the Scout team couldn’t locate anything associated with that address at all?
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There are a few possible explanations for this. First, your job may have been part of a larger parcel. This is common in shopping malls, apartment complexes, and office parks. The retail shop or office building you were contracted to work on may have one address, but is part of a larger parcel the county has recorded as something similar or entirely different.
Another possibility is that the project site you worked on is commonly known by one address, but legally recorded as something else. For example, the New York Stock Exchange is famously located at 11 Wall Street in New York City. But when you search through official records in Manhattan, you’ll find it’s also known as 2 Broad Street. These kinds of differences can be confusing which is why Scout includes documents such as maps to enable you to determine whether the parcel (and the associated LPD) matches your job site address.
Sometimes, parcels are recorded with the county without any address at all, or only with a street name and nothing else. This is common for new developments (where, not coincidentally, a lot of construction takes place!) where street names and numbers are still being finalized, or when the large property on which the development is occurring has not yet been subdivided, but it can happen with any property. In cases like that, Scout provides you with the available information about your potential project location such as a parcel number, block/lot, or township/range/section, for your review use.
Why Does the LPD Matter?
Using the full LPD is required for lien claims in 11 states, and it’s recommended to be used in 9 more states. For that first group of 11 states, your mechanics lien claim may be deemed invalid without the full Legal Property Description.
And for the second group of 9 states, there’s enough risk associated with using an address other than the full LPD that we recommend that all lien claimants use the full LPD. To find out more about which states require use of the full LPD in lien filings, be sure to download our free resource, the Legal Property Description (LPD) Cheat Sheet.