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Lot Line Adjustments: Explained

A lot line adjustment is an extensive process that involves altering the property lines of parcels of land that already exist.

This particular process can be applied to a variety of different situations. For instance, it’s possible to combine four parcels that are adjacent to one another into a single parcel. In order to perform a lot line adjustment, you will be required to complete a significant amount of paperwork and gather necessary documents, most of which can be handled by a professional real estate team.

If you want to facilitate the process and ensure that your application is approved by the planning department, it’s highly recommended that you seek professional assistance.

If your lot line adjustment application is approved, you will be able to adjust the boundary lines of the appropriate lot or lots that you own. If you want to provide your neighbor with a portion of a single lot, this would be possible with a lot line adjustment. The same is true if you have numerous parcels of land that you would like to combine into one parcel of land for a development of a large estate or commercial building. No matter the purpose of the lot line adjustment, it’s necessary to gain approval before you move forward. In the event that you would like to alter your lot in some way, you will be required to undergo a lot line adjustment.

This article explains what a lot line adjustment is and why it could be important to you.

What is a Lot Line Adjustment (LLA)?

A lot line adjustment is a process that occurs when a property owner changes the property lines of parcels of land that already exist.

When you make a lot line adjustment, it’s possible to lessen the number of parcels or keep the number the same while solely altering the boundaries. For instance, four parcels of land could be changed into a single parcel. You could also keep these parcels as four separate parcels while adjusting the boundaries of each. While it’s possible to use the lot line adjustment process to decrease the number of parcels or to keep the same number of parcels, it can’t be used to increase the number of parcels that you have, which means that four parcels can’t be turned into eight parcels.

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What Are The Costs?

Along with changing the boundaries of adjoining parcels, it’s possible to reconfigure the shapes of up to four parcels of land. Before you apply for the ability to make a lot line adjustment, it’s important to understand that there are some costs involved with the process.

For one, a registered civil engineer or licensed land surveyor needs to be in charge of preparing illustrations that display the current configuration and boundary of the lot in question, which could cost $300-$500. A preliminary review fee will also be required when you file your application, which could be priced at $1,000 or more.

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How Lot Line Adjustments Work

While there are a variety of things that you can do with a lot line adjustment, let’s say that you want to sell off a portion of your lot to a neighbor, which would make the existing lot smaller and the neighboring lot larger. Before you could actually transfer the land, you would need to look at the zoning regulations in your area to make sure that the altering of lot sizes doesn’t go against the zoning code. If the zoning code has a minimum lot size requirement of 3,000 square feet, you wouldn’t be able to sell a portion of your lot if it would take your total lot size to an amount that’s lower than 3,000 square feet.

There are also a variety of additional zoning requirements that you would want to keep track of, which include everything from setbacks for the front and back yard to the overall size of the home. Before you go through with the lot line adjustment, you might need to seek approval from a variety of different departments. Once your application has been officially approved, this doesn’t mean that the lot line adjustment has occurred. In fact, the first approval that you receive is only meant to approve the adjustments in concept. This approval notice will include a variety of conditions that you must meet if you want to obtain the final Certificate of Compliance.

When you eventually meet all of these conditions, the planning department will work directly with your title company to make a record of the documents pertaining to the lot line adjustment. The Certificate of Compliance that you receive will certify that the parcels have been legally created.

If you want to begin the process of seeking a lot line adjustment, your first step is to apply for a lot line adjustment with the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning or the planning department for the county that you live in. However, you should know more about the eligibility requirements for a lot line adjustment before filling out and sending in an application.

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Eligibility for Lot Line Adjustments

There are numerous requirements that you will need to meet if you want your lot line application to be approved. While California state law dictates what some of these requirements are, the zoning regulations and building codes within each specific county can determine if your application is approved. You can obtain an application for a lot line adjustment at the planning department for the county that you reside in. While it’s possible to request these applications by mail, it’s much easier and more efficient to download the forms online at the planning department website.

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A registered civil engineer or licensed land surveyor will need to submit the application for you once they have created legal descriptions for the changes that you wish to make. When an application is sent to the planning department, they will review it to make sure that you haven’t made any mistakes.

These applications come with numerous requirements to submit, which include:

  • An application form that’s signed by yourself or a real estate agent that you’ve partnered with
  • A copy of a preliminary title report, which must be less than 90 days old
  • Illustrations that display the current parcel configuration and the new parcel configuration,
  • A legal description of every new lot
  • A hazardous waste site verification statement
  • A preliminary review fee

The application itself is relatively easy to fill out. Both the illustrations and legal descriptions of the parcels will need to be completed by an engineer or land surveyor. The engineer or surveyor you hire will need to have a license to survey in California. The preliminary review fee that you must pay can be upwards of $1,000 or more.

How to Apply for LLA

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If you live in Los Angeles County, you can apply for a lot line adjustment at this link or go directly to this PDF, which includes the application as well as a list of requirements.

Along with the standard application, this PDF provides the entire application package, which allows you to identify the other documents that you need to include alongside the application. Towards the end of the application is a Certificate of Compliance request that you will also need to fill out and sign.

In most cases, there won’t be any notifications or public hearings pertaining to the lot line adjustment, which means that the approval process should be relatively quick as long as your application was filled out correctly and all the appropriate documents provided. Processing fees will be requested at this time. A county surveyor will then review the application that you have submitted to make sure that the legal description is correct. If it is, a Notice of Decision will be provided to you or your representative with the decision of the planning board. The presence of a discretionary action or development variation can lengthen the approval process.

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If your lot line adjustment is approved, you will then be required to submit some additional documentation to make the changes legal. Once you do, you will receive a Certificate of Compliance. The documents that you will be required to submit include a preliminary title report that has been updated within the past 10 days, a deed that denotes the new parcels of land, and deeds of trust for the property that have been modified and rerecorded.

If the approval process goes off without a hitch or delay, you can expect initial approval to take anywhere from 11-30 working days, after which you will receive a Notice of Decision. If a discretionary action or development variation has taken place, the approval process can extend to 50 days. Keep in mind that this approval is a tentative approval. You will then have time to meet the Certificate of Compliance requirements. Once these requirements have been met, the Certificate of Compliance will be recorded and sent to you within 1-2 weeks.

What’s Next?

After the LLA has been approved and recorded, there’s not much left for you to do unless these changes are paving the way for the start of a new development project on the parcel in question. Once the Certificate of Compliance has been recorded, it will take around 2-3 weeks for the county’s records to be fully updated.

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When you receive the Certificate of Compliance, you will know that the lot line adjustment process has been fully completed. Now that you know what a lot line adjustment is and how to apply, you can get started on your application at this link. If you don’t live within Los Angeles County, the planning department for the county you live in should have the application on their website.

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