Someone’s at your door, and when you peak through the window you see a friendly-looking guy who’s smiling ear-to-ear. When you ask who he is, he cracks a joke and shoots you a wink before explaining that he represents an oil and gas company. You open your door, and he tells you how lovely your home is before asking for a second of your time. He seems nice enough, so you let him in, and, soon enough, you’re at your kitchen table sharing stories of your families, pets, and your favorite sports teams. It’s almost like catching up with a childhood friend.
But after 20 minutes or so, the landman gets down to business. He wants you to sign something. He tells you that the company he represents is top notch and does business the “right way.” He says he’s heard the horror stories but assures you that’s not how he and his company do business. At that point, he pulls out several lengthy documents, puts them in front of you, and says if you sign on the dotted line, he can write you out a check on the spot.
What do you do?
By this point, you’re wondering whether the landman you let into your home is a sheep or a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Unfortunately, the distinction is never 100% clear.
While some landmen are professionals who take pride in the work they do, others are less scrupulous and will tell you anything they need to for you to put pen to paper.
I’ve dealt with numerous landmen in my career, and I can tell you that most landmen are somewhere in between. However, what is clear beyond all doubt is that the landman has the best interests of one party and one party only: the oil and gas company.
The landman is hired by the oil and gas company and is paid based upon how many leases, right-of-way, and other agreements he gets signed by landowners. His one objective is to get you to put pen to paper so he can get paid.
That does not mean that the landman is an unethical person. What it means is that he doesn’t have you and your family’s best interests at heart.
So when the landman comes knocking on your door, keep in mind the following:
- Be firm. Don’t be pressured into speaking to a landman and know that you are under no obligation to do anything. A landman will often try to exert pressure by telling you he needs you to act now, but that is rarely, if ever, the case.
- Refuse to sign. The landman’s goal is to get you to sign, plain and simple. However, you are never obligated to sign anything at any time. In fact, if you do, there is likely no way of undoing it.
- Seek advice. Whether it’s your family, friends, or an attorney, reach out to anyone who may help you better understand the situation. Knowledge is power.
If you follow these three simple pieces of advice, you’re much less likely to fall prey to the wolf in sheep’s clothing. If the landman persists and you’re not sure what to do, Gold, Khourey & Turak can help you. Give us a call at (304) 845-9750.