Residential Real Estate Lawyers

What Side of the Fence Are You On? Boundary Disputes in Florida & Elsewhere

Boundary Disputes over property lines that involve waterfront are vigorously contested.

Once upon a time in a courtroom, I watched as someone started to explain themselves to a Judge. As the person continued to explain why they did what they did, the Judge politely made them stop. The Judge – slightly exasperated – looked up at the person standing behind the podium, and simply said to them, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Everyone in the courtroom, including the Judge, understood that the person probably did have good intentions. However, those good intentions did not excuse the person’s behavior as to why they were in court in the first place. Many things in life are the same. Everyone has good intentions, but sometimes situations can go “South” very quickly. This includes boundary disputes with neighbors.

Fences Between Neighbors

You’ve probably heard the famous proverb “Good fences make good neighbors.” The famous American Poet Robert Frost once referred to the proverb “Good fences make good neighbors” twice in his poem Mending Wall. In the poem, Frost explored the purpose behind rebuilding a stone wall between two farmers. One of the farmers twice states the proverb when discussing the rebuilding of the stone wall. The meaning of the proverb, both in Frost’s poem and in real life, is whether or not fences actually make good neighbors. Are fences a good thing? It depends. During boundary disputes, they can certainly cause a ruckus – just ask an attorney for real estate.

There are many types of fences. Often times we think of fences in a subdivision – especially if you live in a subdivision. Perhaps an HOA has strict requirements for what types of fences are allowed within a subdivision. Maybe you live within city limits and you must first get a permit before you put up a fence. On the other hand, you may live in the country and you need big fences to keep in your cattle or horses. Fences are very common. An attorney for real estate can help you with any situations you may have regarding real property issues, and boundary disputes are one of them.

When we think of boundary disputes, most of us automatically think of the traditional fence scenario. The fence scenario comes to mind where one neighbor has accidentally built a fence a foot or two too far on their neighbor’s land. That foot or two can mean a big difference, especially if the lots are small. You shouldn’t shy away from speaking to an attorney for real estate if you’re curious about your options. An attorney for real estate can help you. Although there are boundary disputes involving fences, one boundary dispute involving a driveway that may have gone too far into a neighbor’s property made the news.

The Case of the Driveway Boundary Dispute

In May 2015, Oliver Lynch arrived home to quite a surprise. Lynch’s neighbor had placed cinder blocks on Lynch’s driveway. Lynch’s neighbor placed the cinder blocks on half of Lynch’s driveway because he claimed that some of the driveway was on his property. Lynch stated that he was trying to work out the matter with his neighbor, but that his neighbor wouldn’t change his mind. Lynch was quoted as saying, “He said he was a minister or something like that. A God-fearing man. But I don’t think that’s very Christian-like.” WFTV Channel 9 News was covering the matter in Osceola County with the headline, Man Comes Home to Find His Neighbor Has Taken Half His Driveway. (Hughes, 2017).

Four days later, WFTV Channel 9 News covered the issue once more. This time the headline was much different. On May 26, 2015, the headline was, Neighbor Removes Cement Blocks From Osceola Man’s Driveway. Lynch had spoken with his neighbor since the news coverage, and they agreed that the cinder blocks would be moved. Lynch said that his neighbor told him he meant no ill will. It is fortunate that the scenario between Lynch and his neighbor worked out. (Hughes, 2017). Sometimes boundary disputes don’t work out so smoothly. Unfortunately, some boundary disputes have a tragic ending.

A Boundary Dispute Turned Deadly

Neighbors can sometimes become enemies over boundary disputes.

In Spotslyvania, Virginia, a boundary dispute between two neighbors turned deadly. This past May, a long-standing boundary dispute between two neighbors hit a breaking point when a work crew arrived to do work on one of the properties. 80-year-old Larry Keith Johnson was arrested for shooting his 65-year-old neighbor in the chest. Johnson allegedly shot his neighbor after a confrontation regarding the work crew. (Epps, 2017). This was a tragic ending to a boundary dispute. This boundary dispute story in Virginia and the other story in Osceola County show completely opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to boundary issues.

Resolve Boundary Disputes With Bret Jones, P.A.

Seeking the counsel of an attorney for real estate can help you determine what your options are during a boundary dispute. Although some boundary disputes may be solved between neighbors, it doesn’t hurt to get legal advice from an attorney for real estate. Sometimes land is surveyed incorrectly. Boundary disputes are more common than you may think. An attorney for real estate may assist you in any boundary disputes that may come your way. At Bret Jones, P.A., an attorney for real estate can explain to you what legal remedies you may have – no matter what side of the fence you sit on.

Hughes, Ryan. (May 21, 2017). Man Comes Home to Find Neighbor Has Taken Half His Driveway. wftv.com, http://www.wftv.com/news/local/man-comes-home-find-neighbor-has-taken-half-his-dr/69553315

Hughes, Ryan. (May 26, 2017). Neighbor Removes Cement Blocks From Osceola County Man’s Driveway. wftv.com, http://www.wftv.com/news/local/neighbor-removes-cement-blocks-osceola-county-mans/69503384

Epps, Keith. (May 21, 2017). Elderly Spotslyvania Man Kills Neighbor in Boundary Dispute, Police Say. fredericksburg.com, http://www.fredericksburg.com/news/elderly-spotsylvania-man-kills-neighbor-in-boundary-dispute-police-say/article_51461af2-1439-5074-bd7f-11e0cd9da75e.html