Know Your Riparian Rights!


What are Tidelands?

Also known as “Riparian Rights” these lands are now or formerly flowed by the main high tide of a natural waterway. Generally, the state does not own artificial waterways such as lagoons. The state does claim those lands within a lagoon that were flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway which existed prior to the creation of the lagoon.

Who owns the Tidelands?

The State of New Jersey owns ALL tidelands except those to which it has already sold its interest in the form of a riparian grant.

What are Riparian Rights?

The rights of owners adjacent to tidelands to be the first to request the use of those areas. These lands are owned by all of the people of the State of New Jersey, so you must get permission from the State for the primary use of these lands in the form of a tidelands license, lease, or grant, and you must pay for this use.

What is a Tidelands License?

A short term revocable rental document to use tidelands generally for structures such as docks, bulkhead extensions, mooring piles, and other temporary structures as well as for dredging projects. They are project specific and expire after a finite term ranging from one to ten years. The process generally takes six to twelve months but will be most streamlined by applying for all required permits before or at the same time you apply for a license.

Remedies to the Record Owner

A Landowner whose property is affected by a tidelands claim map may pursue several avenues for relief:

  • Application for a riparian/tideland grant– is a deed from the State of New Jersey selling its tidelands. Usually only issued for lands that have already been filled in and are no longer flowed by the tide. Process can take as long as 2 to 3 years.

  • Application for a riparian/tideland lease – A long term rental document to use tidelands generally for homes over water. The term is usually twenty years. Process can take as long as 2 to 3 years.

  • Application for a Statement of no interest – is a recordable document that states the State of New Jersey has no tidelands ownership interest in a property

  • Filing of a Quiet title suit against the state

Can a Tidelands Application be Denied?

Yes. The State is under no obligation to sell or rent its tidelands. The state must find that any sale or rental is in the public interest and then make a determination as to the cost.

What is the takeaway?

A waterfront property owner and/or real estate agent should take care in determining if their property is in fact claimed and whether a corresponding riparian grant has ever been obtained. Whenever evaluating a waterfront property it is a good idea to ask to see a copy of the current owner’s title report. Special attention should be given to tidelands claims and/or riparian grants to be resolved prior to the sale.

How can I find out if my property is affected by a tidelands claim or if it already has a tidelands grant, lease or license?

Review the Tidelands maps at the county and municipal Clerk’s office to determine if your property is affected by a tidelands claim. You will NOT be able to determine if the state has issued a tidelands conveyance for your property just by reviewing the maps. You can write to the Bureau with a request for evidence of tidelands ownership. The request must be in writing and include the tax lot and block, street address, county and municipality for the property and a copy of any survey you may already have.

How do I contact the Bureau?

State of New Jersey
Department of Environmental Protection
Bureau of Tidelands Management
P.O. Box 439
Trenton, NJ 08625-0439

Phone: (609) 292-2573 | Fax: (609) 633-6493