The city of Sandy Springs is helping homeowners in a subdivision approved years ago without internal property lines, an odd situation that is causing confusion about house sales and property rights.

The Peachtree Manor subdivision consists of 12 houses with small yards on Manorwood Court, near the North Springs MARTA Station. Its zoning was approved in 2005 by Fulton County, before the city had incorporated.

The updated Peachtree Manor subdivision property lot map approved by the Sandy Springs City Council Sept. 20.

As city attorney Wendell Willard explained at the Sept. 20 City Council meeting, the county-approved zoning map did not show any internal lot lines or common areas. Willard said it resulted in “some hybrid” of private and common ownership that may have left homeowners with rights only to the building and none of the land around or under it. In any case, the lack of property lines has confused lenders, making it hard or impossible for homeowners to refinance mortgages or sell the houses.

In 2014, the homeowners came up with a new subdivision map showing agreed-upon lot lines. At the Sept. 20 meeting, the City Council agreed to a rezoning that essentially just approves that new property map. The homeowners are paying to record the new map, while the city initiated the rezoning itself to assist them.

Councilmember John Paulson was among the officials who asked questions in an attempt to picture the unusual ownership situation. Councilmember Gabriel Sterling summed it up by replying, “Mr. Paulson, it’s weird and we’re fixing it.”

While Peachtree Manor’s situation is unusual, it may not be unique. Councilmember Tibby DeJulio recalled a similar case some years ago, and said that he and his wife recently encountered another one personally while in the market for a townhome. They found one unit they liked, but its ownership structure was also unclear, he said.

“We couldn’t figure out how to buy it. We couldn’t figure out how to finance it,” DeJulio said.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.