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What does Florida law say about fence or other property disputes?

Having people who live nearby can be a blessing for some Melbourne residents, but a curse for others. One of the downsides to living near neighbors is that it often results in fence, tree trimming and other property line disputes. Fortunately, there are laws on the books in Florida that describe a property owner's responsibilities as it relates to these different matters.

A common matter that Florida property owners find themselves in conflicts over fences. Who is responsible for erecting them? Under the law, no property owner is required to put a fence around his or her boundaries. Property owners who do build a fence on a boundary line also cannot demand partial payment from the owner of the adjacent property for the fence's cost. If two landowners do agree to split the expense for the fence, then they should put such an agreement in writing.

Any agreement that property owners draft should include their names, a description of the parcels involved and where the fence is located. It should mention whether the two property owners are agreeing to share in paying for and maintaining the fence. Any contract of this sort should be witnesses by two unrelated parties and a notary if you intend for it to be enforceable in a court of law.

There are laws on the books which disallow the building of what might be considered to be a "spite fence" in Florida. One of the landmark cases on the issue, Mickel v. Norton, Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d 2011, establishes that any barrier that interferes with a neighbor's easement or other property rights may violate the law.

While state statutes allow for a fence to be built for legitimate purposes such as preventing vandalism or trespassing, it doesn't allow for a property owner to construct it out of malice. If the erection of a fence is a nuisance in that it blocks a landowner's view, then it's construction may be considered as malicious.

Fencing in a piece of land may seem like an ideal solution for keeping unwanted visitors away, especially if other approaches that you've tried have failed to help you achieve a resolution. If your fence obstructs their view or infringes on an easement, then its existence may result in conflict. A real estate litigation attorney can guide you as you look to address this or any other property disputes here in Florida.

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