Understanding Fence Law Disputes in Florida

With the existence of tens of thousands of farms in the state of Florida, as well as hundreds of thousands of privately-owned residential properties, land boundaries are a frequent point of contention between neighbors. The state of Florida has edicted several laws regarding the legality and construction of fences around properties.

There are two primary bodies of legislation regarding fencing: the encroachment or overlapping of the ownership of two adjoining landowners, and laws regarding the construction of fences on individual properties. An encroachment of land occurs when an individual occupies a part of land above or below the service that is not described in the land’s deed. Specifically, an encroachment occurs without the consent from the owner of the encroached land. Encroachment problems can get a bit trickier, though: two subtypes of encroachment are boundary by agreement and boundary by acquiescence.

A boundary by agreement has three important aspects: uncertainty to the true boundary line, an agreement that a certain line will be treated by the parties as the actual boundary line, and occupation by the parties for a period of time adequate to show a recognition of the line as a permanent boundary. For example, if John erects a fence that encroaches on Jane’s farmland by twenty feet, but neither party is aware of the fact that this fence encroaches on Jane’s farmland, and the fence has been maintained by both parties for at least five years, a boundary by agreement has been entered.  Thus, if Jane conducts a survey to reveal that the fence is encroaching on her land, she can no longer request to have the fence removed, because both parties have made a de facto boundary at the fence. A boundary by acquiescence requires a dispute from which it can be implied that both parties are in doubt of the true boundary line, and continued occupation in a line that is not the true boundary for more than seven years. In short, it means that any action brought to undo encroachment will likely be denied if it is after seven years of encroachment.massachusetts-77350_640

There are also several Florida regulations regarding the ownership and construction of fences on private, residential properties. Fences must be constructed to not impede the flow of water through any drainage way, and must have sound and sturdy construction. Front yard fences cannot be any taller than four feet, while backyard fences can be no taller than six feet. Hazardous materials that may harm people or animals are not allowed in fence construction.

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