What Does Subdivision of Property Mean?

by Nanette Delaney Burton ; Updated July 27, 2017

A subdivision is land or other real property divided into two or more parts, called lots, for the purpose of development or sale. Property subdivisions may also occur when parcels of land are altered to accommodate new streets or changes made to existing streets. Landowners who wish to subdivide property must do so in accordance with the law.

Planning and Zoning Laws

Property divisions may be controlled by local or state subdivision regulations, but urban areas and some rural areas also have zoning laws that determine how property can be used in a particular area. Local planning and zoning boards oversee compliance with these laws.

Subdivision Procedures

The approval process for a subdivision may be determined by the size of the subdivision. Categories of subdivisions and procedures for approval, such as board only or board plus local government, vary among locations. Some subdivision plans require notification of neighboring property owners and a public hearing.

Types of Subdivisions

Exempt subdivisions do not require local government approval. The local planning director signs off on these.

Local governments define minor subdivisions and major subdivisions by the number of lots being created. A minor one, for example, may have four or fewer lots. Major subdivisions usually require a more extensive approval process.

Subdivision Approval

Approved changes to the plat, a map detailing the property, are filed with the recorder or clerk of the county where the land is.

About the Author

Nanette Delaney Burton, mother of three, began writing professionally in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego in political science (American politics and law; minor in psychology). Burton is currently working on her Juris Doctorate.