Sunday, November 11, 2012

Boundary and Fencing Disputes, Adverse Possession, and Property Law in Florida

This weekend I ran across a good resource for Florida property owners. The University of Florida IFAS Extension produced the Handbook of Florida Fence and Property Law a couple of years ago. I thought I would point it out to my readers because it covers a range of interesting topics that I get asked about a lot. It covers a bit about adverse possession, which my most popular blog post covers. It also covers another topic that I am asked about a great deal: neighbor boundary disputes. What happens when neighbors have disputes over their boundary lines or their fences? The handbook summarizes, after giving a great deal of detail:
If your title clearly describes your land and, according to your deed and your neighbor’s deed, your neighbor’s fence is clearly encroaching upon your land, you should immediately notify your neighbor in writing of the encroachment. Your neighbor is required to remove this encroachment. 
If the location of the true boundary line is unclear from both your deed and your neighbor’s deed, avoid future dispute by notifying your neighbor of the ambiguity, calling a surveyor, and clarifying your boundary lines. In the case where you think boundary by agreement or boundary by acquiescence may apply to the dispute, think of the aspects of each and whether they actually apply to your case. 
Remember the three aspects of boundary by agreement: 
1. Uncertainty or doubt as to the true boundary line
2. Agreement that a certain line will be treated by the parties as the true boundary line
3. Subsequent occupation by the parties in accordance with the agreement for a period of time sufficient to show settled recognition of the line as a permanent boundary 
Consider also the two aspects of boundary by acquiescence: 
1. A dispute or uncertainty from which it can be implied that both parties are in doubt as to the true boundary line
2. Continued occupation and acquiescence in a line other than the true boundary for a period of more than seven years (as required by the statute of limitations)
Of course, IFAS has many other guides and handbooks that landowners may find useful.