Another question which frequently arises and concerning which a clear statement should be made in the agreement of sale, is whether the seller intends to transfer with the land his ownership in the street or highway adjacent to the land. The courts say it is a matter of intention, but at the same time in a contract of sale this intention is usually sought to be found in the language used in describing the property.
The rule frequently announced is that the bounding of a lot by the exterior line of an abutting street, i. e., the line separating the property from the street, as contradistinguished from bounding it by the street, excludes from the conveyance any part of the abutting street, unless there be circumstances indicating a different intention. Thus, where the description commences upon the side of a street, as for instance "beginning at a point on the northerly side of East Fourteenth Street," and thence along that side to a point specified, the general construction is that no ownership in the street is thus conveyed.
But where the property is bounded by or is described as on or along a highway or street, or running along a highway or street, without restricting or controlling words, as for instance "and thence along East Fourteenth Street" as distinguished from "thence along the northerly side of East Fourteenth Street," the general rule is that the grantor's title in the land to the center of the street or highway is included in the grant.
Where the contract binds the purchaser to pay a specific sum per acre and bounds the property "by" certain roads, it is held that the purchaser is not required to pay for any acreage included in the highway itself.
And where lots are described by lot numbers with reference to a map on which the lots appear as bounded by a street, the conveyance will be assumed to include the abutting streets to the centre whether or not at the the time of the conveyance the streets have been actually opened. This presumption will not, however, hold if succeeding words in the conveyance limit the effect of the reference to the map, as where the reference to lot numbers is followed by a specific description which limits the lots to the side of the street, or where the description contains appropriate words to indicate an intention to exclude part of the abutting streets.
If the purchaser desires to assure himself that his title extends to the center of the street or highway, he may well require a specific statement to that effect, which usually takes the form of a clause at the end of the description, somewhat as follows: "Together with all the right, title and interest of the party of the first part (or grantor) of, in and to the streets and avenues in front of and adjacent to said premises to the center lines thereof respectively." This usually settles all doubt.