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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 38237
Experience:  17 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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I purchased a home 17 months ago with a dock that I have

Customer Question

I purchased a home 17 months ago with a dock that I have learned it is over the neighbors ripar***** *****ne. This dock has been in this location for 31 years and now the neighbor wants me to remove what is over his line. I have had to repair the dock due to age but it is the same size and in exactly the same location. The only change it had a floating dock for the previous boat owner and days before construction repairs started a strong wind lifted it up and onto the neighboring dock and two boats were damaged. I then decided a permanent structure for the floating part was a safer way to go. It's still in the same location and same size. Do I have any grounds for keeping my dock in one piece?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.

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In a situation like this, the legal doctrine of "adverse possession" would apply so as to give you the legal right to claim ownership of the area where your dock is located or at a minimum give you an easement by use to continue to use the area.

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In Florida the period of time for adverse possession must be at least seven (7) years. Florida Code §95.16-.18.

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What this means is that if someone trespasses continually on another person's property openly and notoriously, then they can turn from a trespasser into an owner or at least someone with use rights. So since the period of time in FL is only 7 years, if the dock has been there 31 years, it is well beyond the time requirement for claiming adverse possession.

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So you can have a local attorney send the neighbor a cease and desist letter stating that under the doctrine of adverse possession, if the dock has been encroaching over 7 years, then you have gained the right to use that area indefinitely.

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If they pushed the matter, then you can file a "quiet title" lawsuit, prove that you and any previous owners have had the dock there at least 7 years, and then a judge will issue an order either granting you ownership of that area or a permanent easement to use it from now on.

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thanks

Barrister