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Roger, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 31729
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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I believe I qualify to acquire a narrow strip of land

Customer Question

I believe I qualify to acquire a narrow strip of land adjacent to my yard, according to the law of adverse possession. Who do I talk to first...the city or just go to the courthouse and request a hearing??
JA: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: florida
JA: Has any paperwork been filed?
Customer: not yet but I have all documents, survey and pictures of the area in question
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No, I just wanted to know who to talk to first to initiate this acquisition.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Roger replied 9 months ago.

Hi - my name is ***** ***** I'll be glad to assist.

Who is the record owner of the property? The city or a private person?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I believe the owner is the city of Dunedin, FL since the strip of land is considered easement. But the city hasn't been out to maintain any of the land or the creek behind my house since I built my house 26 years ago. Statute of limitations is 7 years in this state, and I've been cutting back overgrowth from the creek and this strip of land for all these years. While my house was under construction, a city tractor used to drive along the strip cutting back overgrowth from the creek, but once I moved in, the city stopped sending a tractor for any kind of maintainance, so I've been doing it. Whoever owns this approximately 10 foot wide strip hasn't been out here for 26 years to maintain it, mow it, or make improvements to it. It's basically part of my yard and is included in my weekly lawn cutting service. About twice a year I go along the creek edge and cut back tree limbs and bushes that are encroaching into the yard. All these years, I assumed I owned all the land to the edge of the creek, but my survey shows otherwise. I've taken good care of this property and after 26 years, I see no reason to not be able to acquire this narrow area.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I'm trying to get one simple answer for the lowest cost. Email may not be immediate, but it will suffice. Do I talk to the city first with my intent to acquire this strip of land, or can I go right to the courthouse and apply for a hearing to determine ownership by adverse possession??
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
If you're going to send a response by email, I'll get off my computer for now. If you're typing a response now, I'll watch my screen for a few more minutes. Thanks either way.
Expert:  Roger replied 9 months ago.

Hi - I'm sorry for the delay. I had a family matter that required me to go offline until now.

As for your question, you generally cannot adversely possess property from a sovereign entity, such as a city, county, state, etc. Thus, IF the city owns the property, there should be no ability for you to adversely possess the strip of land.

Expert:  Roger replied 9 months ago.

Your best option would be to consult the local city officials and see if it will deed the property to you, let you purchase it, etc.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Hi Roger, My forte is surgery, not real estate law. Having said that, I read and understood as much as possible about the adverse possession law and land owned by the state is impossible to acquire. I thought the strip of land was owned by the city, but yesterday I found out the land is owned by a Masonic Temple behind my house on the other side of the creek. I'm only interested in the strip on my side of the creek that I've maintained for 26 years, and never saw a tractor or maintainance people once I moved into the house. Whoever does own this little piece, has done nothing to maintain or improve it. Since the owner has ignored the property, and it's not owned by a public entity, I see no reason not to acquire it. But my question remains.....who do I talk to?? Should I start by going to the city and stating my case, or can I just go to the courthouse to arrange a hearing?? I have plenty of pictures, survey, lot shape and dimensions, and also a variance I received when the house was under construction. The city vacated 5 feet of easement and I shortened the house by 5 feet. At that time, the easement was 15 feet, which I thought was measured from the edge of the creek. But it appears that the easement was measured from the Masonic Lodge property line on my side of the creek. So the area in question is about 10 feet by about 268 feet....the entire length of the back yard. I have one neighbor right next to me and his yard is also impacted by this property line issue. We have both maintained this strip in both yards and have never seen the owner or seen any maintainance work done by the owner or lawn crew. My neighbor is an attorney and I'm going to ask him if he wants to pursue ownership of the piece that he's maintained for over 20 years. So do I start with the city or go right to the courthouse?? I'll wait for your reply. Thanks again, *****
Expert:  Roger replied 9 months ago.

Thanks for the additional information James.

If the Masonic Temple owns the property, the first thing would be to go to it and ask if they will deed the strip of land over to you. IF they refuse, then the only option you would have is to sue the landowner, claim adverse possession and ask the judge to enter an order finding that you own the land through the provisions of adverse possession. If you receive a court order granting you ownership, then you'd be the fee simple owner.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Thanks Roger, I'll go to the Masonic lodge and find out who to talk to about this strip of land.I'm sure I need to talk to someone with the authority to address this issue and make a decision to allow me to acquire the property. I also understand that a judge must make the final decision, so after talking to the lodge owner, I'll set up a court date.If I'm on the right track, you don't need to respond, but if I'm overlooking something, please advise. Have a great day. Sincerely, *****
Expert:  Roger replied 9 months ago.
No problem and good luck with this. If you need anything else, just let me know.Thanks!

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