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Boundary Line Disputes Will Abound In Florida

James W. Martin

What if you found out your neighbor’s fence was really on your lot? Can you make him move it? What if it’s not just a fence but is part of his house or garage? That’s often how boundary line disputes start out. Florida real estate lawyers are likely to see more and more boundary line disputes.

Land development did not really take off in Florida until the 1900s when railroads were built to bring northerners to the sunny beaches. Development begins with land surveys. Surveyors set survey marks in the ground to mark corners based on a coordinate system like the one you studied in geometry. Of course, it’s more difficult because the earth is not a flat square; it’s a round ball. So, surveying is complicated.

In addition, the survey markers get covered by dirt. When’s the last time you saw your lot’s boundary corner markers? Most people don’t even know what they are.

The boundary dispute usually arises when you or your neighbor put your house on the market for sale. A prospective buyer should always obtain a survey and ask the surveyor to put flags in the corners so that the buyer can verify that the legal description on the sales contract matches what the buyer saw when the buyer walked the property. If the flags show that a fence, building or structure crosses the boundary line, then it’s an encroachment.

That’s when the boundary line dispute begins. But it does not end there. The owner of the encroaching structure has several defenses that his Florida real estate lawyer can raise, such as boundary by acquiescence, boundary by agreement, and adverse possession. These are complicated concepts, of course, because they are based on the common law of England going back centuries, but they are useful when defending against a boundary line dispute.

As Florida ages, Florida real estate lawyers will see more and more boundary line disputes.

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