In purchasing suburban property, if the purchaser wishes to protect himself against subsequent assessments he should require a clause in the contract of sale stating that the sewer, gas and water are in the streets adjoining the property and are properly connected with it, and that there are no assessments, instalment or otherwise, against the property.
Not infrequently land companies purchase acreage and subdivide it into lots. Maps are made of the property showing it laid out into lots, these maps sometimes being accurate and made by a competent surveyor, and at other times lacking either or both of these desirable qualities. Difficulty sometimes arises with this suburban property when the municipality or the town in which the property is situated subsequently lays out streets, the lines of which do not coincide with the streets shown on the land companies' maps. Many of these maps are not filed in the public offices at all, and purchasers must then rely on a map which is in the possession of an individual or a land company.
One of the several reasons for the reluctance to file such maps is found in the fact that if a map showing the property cut up into lots is filed in a public office, the tax assessors are apt to assess each lot separately, whereas if no map is filed the property is assessed in one parcel as farm land or woodland or meadows as the case may be, and the belief is prevalent and has some foundation, that the tax assessments are considerably less when the property is assessed as a farm or as woodland than when each lot is assessed as separately laid out.
In New York the legislature has made an effort to regulate the filing of such maps by an act which became a law on June 7, 1910. This law makes it the duty of every person who, or corporation which, either as owner or as an agent cuts up property into lots for the purpose of offering them for sale, to cause a map to be filed, and provides a penalty for failure so to do. The law is an addition to the New York Real Property Law, and in full is as follows:
"Sec. 334. Maps to be Filed; Penalty for Nonfiling. It shall be the duty of every person or corporation who, as owner or agent, subdivides real property into lots, plots, blocks or sites, with or without streets, for the purpose of offering such lots, plots, blocks or sites for sale to the public, to cause a map thereof, together with a certificate of the surveyor or draughtsman attached showing the date of the completion of the survey and of the making of the map and the name of the subdivision as stated by the owner, to be filed in the office of the county clerk or register of deeds of the county where the property is situated prior to the offering of any such lots, plots, blocks or sites for sale. All of such maps shall be placed and kept by some suitable method, in consecutive order and shall be consecutively numbered in the order of their filing and shall be indexed under the initial letters of all substantives in the title of the subdivision. A failure to file any such map as required by the provisions of this section shall subject the owner of such subdivision, or of the unsold lots therein, to a penalty to the people of the state of twenty-five dollars for each and every lot therein sold and conveyed by or for such owner prior to the due filing of such map." 5