Have your neighbors leased?
The industry often attempts to create social pressure that suggests neighbors have approved when they have not. This makes talking with your neighbors even more important so that you can make decisions together.
Ask them directly "Have you leased, or are you looking to lease the gas rights on your property?"
Engage in one-on-one discussions with your neighbors to discourage them from signing, presenting factual, scientific evidence of the potential harms. Use resources like EHP Research and Factsheets or from groups like PSE Healthy Energy.
Engage them to help them understand the impact of leasing on your land rights, insurance and mortgage. There has been discussion in the financial, insurance, and mortgage industries about the potential risks associated with fracking. Some large firms prohibit the holder of a mortgage from selling or leasing any portion of the property (surface or sub-surface), potentially leading to loan defaults. This is a developing issue that should be monitored closely, and another piece of evidence worth mentioning to neighbors.
Look to the following guides
- National Association of Realtors: “Framing the Fracking Frenzy”
- Duke University Housing Impacts Study
- Carolina Banker Oil & Gas/Mortgages Study
- New York Times Oil & Gas/Mortgages Documents
Work with your neighbors to gather baseline data
In order to dig deeper into how oil and gas activity will impact your property value, begin gathering baseline data:
- Document the current value of your property – you can check the value online through Zillow
- Talk to your homeowner’s insurance agent
- Will your property be devalued?
- Home insurance is tied to value?
- Discuss your ability to refinance or sell
Negotiating with industry representatives:
Take a look at industry materials to learn about how they choose to negotiate with land owners, and tactics that landmen are well versed in. This gives context for you and your neighbors when understanding how genuine an industry representative is, or if they are just using a tactic to gain trust.
Always be sure to consult with an attorney specializing in land use issues and zoning before entering negotiations. But here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Smaller land may mean less leverage, so look into partnering with others
- Always research the company that approaches you to decide if you are willing to trust them
- Reach out to other companies to see how they compare
- Do not agree to a contract term that gives you less than what state law already gives you
Resources on effective negotiation:
- Marcellus Shale Legal Issues for Landowners
- Pipeline Safety Coalition
- Landman Leasing Tactics
- There is a Landman at my door!
- West Virginia Surface Owner’s Rights Organization - Advice for Common Situations
- Protect Our Children Coalition's Organizing ABCs Guide