Get Off My Land! Making the Case for Adverse Possession in Florida with Residential Real Estate Lawyers
Florida is no stranger to adverse possession. Adverse possession claims have been popping quietly and not-so-quietly around the State of Florida for many years. Residential real estate lawyers at Bret Jones, P.A. can guide you through any adverse possession claims on your home or land, or any adverse possession claims that you may be making.
Adverse Possession in World-Famous Daytona Beach
During Summer 2017, the Daytona Beach News-Journal covered a story titled, “Obscure Law Used on Daytona Property Seizures”. (Zaffiro-Kean, 2017). The article mentions how four years ago, a man in Boca Raton attempted to stake a claim on a house via adverse possession. After staying in the waterfront home for nearly six weeks, he was eventually cited for trespassing. His claim on the home via adverse possession went unsuccessfully. The same can be said for another man in Daytona Beach, who over the past few years ( and with a little knowledge of property law) has attempted to adversely possess quite a few properties in the area. Not only did this individual in Daytona attempt to adversely possess a home, but he also attempted to make a claim to an oceanfront motel and beachside home as well–albeit unsuccessfully. (Zaffiro-Kean, 2017).
As Alexander Pope so eloquently put in his poetry, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing…” Take heed, it pays to have a professional help you. It is a good idea to invite residential real estate lawyers to assist you in any adverse possession claims against real property you may own. Likewise, it would be advisable to do so for any adverse possession claims that you may be making.
What Constitutes Adverse Possession?
Adverse possession exists in one form or another throughout the United States. The word adverse gives a clue that the possession or claim for the real property will unlikely be an unfriendly process. In Florida, there are a few requirements for an adverse possession claim. The possession must open and notorious, exclusive, actual, and hostile. Furthermore, in the State of Florida, the adverse possession must run continuously for the statutory period of seven years. As residential real estate lawyers will tell you, in addition to Chapter 95 of the Florida Statutes, relevant Florida case law is essential in determining an adverse possession claim. Adverse possession may exist when a person is claiming ownership of a property under the “color of title” or without the “color of title”.
Adverse Possession Under the Color of Title
Claiming under the color of title means that a person believes that they have ownership of a property due to a legitimate title claim. For example, perhaps an incorrect deed was filed. Let’s say that deed marked John’s Lot 1 as belonging to Cindy. If Cindy relied on the incorrect deed, thinking that Lot 1 belonged to her, then that adverse possession claim would be under the color of title. As we’ve stated above, there are more requirements for adverse possession under of color of title. Residential real estate lawyers would be able to assist either John or Cindy.
Adverse Possession Without the Color of Title
Let’s say that Mark keeps his boat tied up to a Cypress tree on a lake. Mark really likes the land the boat is near, so he decides to build a fishing hut on the lakeshore. He loves his fishing hut so much that he starts to spend all his time at the fishing hut. Mark decides to move into the fishing hut full time. He gets a generator so he can have electricity at the hut. Mark sees a nearby house down the road from his fishing hut. Mark waves to the neighbor, Jack, who lives in the nearby house. Now Jack owns the land on which Mark has built his fishing hut. Jack sees Mark living at the fishing hut, but he never says anything to Mark. All Jack does is wave and smile at everyone he sees.
Mark ends up living at the fishing hut for over 7 years. He makes repairs to the land and starts to pay for improvements and taxes on the land. After 7 years, Mark decides to file a claim of adverse possession for the land where the fishing hut sits.
Does Mark have the rights to the land under a claim of adverse possession?
It is likely that Mark might have rights to the land under Florida’s adverse possession laws. Mark has been in open, hostile, actual, and open and notorious possession of the land for over 7 years. Anyone could see that Mark was living on the land. Mark made improvements and started to pay taxes on the land. Some may argue that Jack was giving permission for Mark to live on the land by smiling and waving every time he saw Mark. If Mark was given permission to stay, then it may be found that Mark was not in hostile possession of the land. If Mark is not in hostile possession, then he does not have an adverse possession claim. Cases like this are not a common occurrence, but they do occur. Of course, Mark, Jack, John, and Cindy are entirely fictional characters.
Residential Real Estate Lawyers at Bret Jones, P.A.
As anyone can see, there are a lot of factors that will influence whether or not Mark will have a legitimate claim under adverse possession for the lakeside property he has been residing on. In addition, there are a lot of factors to consider when determining whether Cindy Johnson has a claim either. Residential real estate attorneys would take a look at the fact presented, as well as the relevant statutes and case law when making an argument for or against an adverse possession claim. Our residential real estate lawyers at Bret Jones, P.A., are familiar with the so-called “obscure” law called adverse possession. We would be glad to assist you whether you are making an adverse possession claim or fighting against one.
Zaffiro-Kean, Eileen. (June 4, 2017). Obscure Law Used on Daytona Property Seizures. The Daytona Beach News-Journal, http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20170604/obscure-law-used-on-daytona-property-seizures