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Riparian Rights


If you own land that touches or is bounded by a natural body of water, you are entitled to riparian rights. This very specialized aspect of real estate law presents unique challenges which require the assistance of counsel experienced in handling such matters.

Our riparian rights team includes attorneys with experience in cottage law, environmental, land use and zoning law, which allow us to draw from a range of perspectives in resolving riparian rights and related matters.

For more information, please contact either your Varnum attorney, or Brad Defoe at 248/567-7414 or, or Mark Hills at 616/846-0687 or


We have experience solving the following problems:

  • Access rights
  • Dock disputes
  • Inland lake level proceedings
  • Plat vacations and similar issues involving dedicated areas in recorded plats
  • Road-end disputes
  • Boundary disputes, involving both uplands and riparian bottomlands
  • Municipal regulation of riparian uses
  • Restrictive covenants/deed restrictions
  • Issues concerning public access or other public rights
  • Hunting and fishing rights
  • Document review prior to property purchase
  • Easements
  • Litigating riparian rights issues
  • Quiet title actions
  • Land use issues

Riparian Rights Disputes

Our experience has shown that far too many cases wind up in the courts because property owners have taken matters into their own hands without understanding their legal rights or the potential rights of the perceived transgressor. Seek legal advice before you resort to any "self-help" remedies.

Adjacent owners have been known to remove or destroy docks, tear down fences and erect obstructions to prevent access. In addition to the potential for hostility, such actions increase the likelihood of an expensive lawsuit, which may have been avoided if legal advice was sought in the first instance. If someone is using a portion of your land or interfering with the use and enjoyment of your property, seek appropriate counsel to understand your rights and how to protect them.

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