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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
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I am the president of a non-profit organization that owns some

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I am the president of a non-profit organization that owns some property in an urban setting with multiple home owners backing onto the property and a few access points from the street. The property is woods and swamp with snakes, alligators, other critters, and water. What are the regulations as to fencing/posting signs to keep people off the property and reduce our liability for those who come on the property illegally? There are at least 50 different owners to adjacent properties.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

POST REGULATIONS
There are no specific regulations for posting signs under Florida Statutes. One is free to post signs that WARN individuals that the property is private, but this is not mandatory and is up to the land-owning entity.


LIABILITY
For trespassers, there is no liability. Liability to a landowner comes in three types:

INVITEE: a person generally invited to land for business purposes. The owner or occupant owes an invitee the duty of keeping the premises in a reasonably safe condition, and, as plaintiff contends, also to guard against subjecting such person to dangers of which the owner or occupant is cognizant or might reasonably have foreseen. First Federal Sav. & Loan Ass'n v. Wylie, Fla. 1950, 46 So.2d 396 and Messner v. Webb's City, Inc., Fla. 1952, 62 So.2d 66.

LICENSEE: a person on the land via invitation or permission. The duty owed a licensee is to refrain from wanton negligence or wilful misconduct which would injure him, or to refrain from intentionally exposing him to danger. City of Boca Raton v. Mattef, Fla. 1956, 91 So.2d 644.

TRESPASSER: a person on the land without permission. "The unwavering rule as to a trespasser is that the property owner is under the duty only to avoid willful and wanton harm to him and upon discovery of his presence to warn him of known dangers not open to ordinary observation." Wood v. Camp, 284 So. 2d 691 - Fla: Supreme Court 1973 quoting Byers v. Gunn, 81 So.2d 723 (Fla. 1955); McNulty v. Hurley, 97 So.2d 185, 187 (Fla. 1957).

In essence, one has very little duty to safeguard trespassers and no special duty to prevent them from hurting themselves on your property. A good way to explain it is: "Robber jumps over fence and unto a nail. Owner of land is not liable for the robber's injury upon discovering robber. However, owner cannot then take a pipe and hit the robber with it (unless the robber is violent)."

ATTRACTIVE NUISANCE
There is a caveat. One has to take special precaution for children even if they enter without permission. This is called attractive nuisance. The attractive nuisance doctrine states that a landowner may be held liable for injuries to children trespassing on the land if the injury is caused by a hazardous object or condition on the land that is likely to attract children who are unable to appreciate the risk posed by the object or condition.

The owner is expected to take reasonable precautions if the land has any hazardous items that may attract children to play who may injure themselves. These precautions include fences, primary, but it is on a case by case basis and the underlining rule is REASONABLE.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Good luck.

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Customer: replied 10 months ago.

So you are saying that even though there is a body of water flowing through the property (it is not visible from any points on the road) we do not need a fence? It would be extremely hard to fence as it's pretty wild.

Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.
C,

So you are saying that even though there is a body of water flowing through the property (it is not visible from any points on the road) we do not need a fence?

Correct. No rule states that a property must be fenced in.

However, under the doctrine of attractive nuisance, it may be smart to put up sign(s) that state(s) something akin to:

"Private Property. Fishing, wading, swimming, or other activities in water are prohibited. Water current may be dangerous. Trespassing is prohibited and will be prosecuted."

One is not expected to fence off a whole body of water under the doctrine of attractive nuisance.

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE and submit your rating when we are finished.
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 87079
Experience: Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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