Surface rights for new owner

I am looking at purchasing a plot of land that the current owner wishes to keep the OGM rights. There is a surface restriction written in his lease that stipulates that the lessee must seek permission from the lessor to enter or use the surface. So, it appears to only be a subsurface lease at the moment.

My question: Does the surface rights transfer to me automatically if I buy the land, or do I have to get the lease amended to specify in the language of the lease?

To be clear, I am OK with leaving the OGM rights to the seller. I just want to protect my surface rights and any damages that could occur, should there be any OGM extractions in the future. I should note: There are no drilling operations at this time, and the lease is a 5-year lease that lasts until November 2023.

Thank you in advance for any feedback.

You probably need to check the laws in your state, but the mineral rights usually have dominance over the surface rights and in many states, the surface owner cannot restrict their right to enter under reasonable use for the extraction of the minerals (not for casually strolling in to hunt, etc.) If they decide to drill and use your land for a surface location, you would need to negotiate a surface use agreement to protect yourself, your buildings, livestock, agriculture, etc. Many states have very good examples of the surface leases which are used by the major universities for their lands.


Thank you for your response. I live in Pennsylvania. Although the language in the lease reads that the lessee has to request permission to use the surface, I have also heard that PA has laws similar to what you described regarding the drilling company have the right to enter based on the mineral rights. I don’t think I want that kind of arrangement.