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Orlando Real Estate Law Blog

Couple wins lengthy battle over use of land

Owning one's own property often means that a Florida resident may exercise a great deal of authority over how that property is maintained and for what purposes it is used. As readers of this blog know, however, municipalities may limit the permissible uses of various parcels based on how they are zoned and any applicable ordinances that may be in place. One Florida couple endured a multi-year battle over an ordinance that blocked their desires to maintain a garden on their property.

The couple lives in Miami Shores and had planted and maintained a garden in their front yard for a number of years. They chose to maintain their garden in their front yard because it received more sun that their backyard. A new zoning ordinance was put into effect that forced them to uproot their garden or face a $50 per day fine.

Steps to ridding yourself of squatters

The first thing to understand about squatters, is that they’re pests who disrupt your property from running smoothly and properly. A squatter taking over your property is very real, and it can become increasingly difficult to remove them if you can’t stay a step ahead.

In Florida, squatters have the right to file for adverse possession to gain rights to your property. If the property owner doesn’t take immediate action, the illegal tenant gains rights to the property over time. The time limit that the property must be in the possession of the squatter is seven years with full visibility by the legal owner and community. After that seven years has passed, and the owner has not taken the correct legal action to remove the illegal tenant, eminent domain expires, and the squatter can file for adverse possession. Lastly, only one squatter can file for rights to a single property.

Legal support for late summer moves

While it is often the case that Florida residents look for homes where they expect to live for the long-term, it is not unusual for changes to happen in their lives that may necessitate moves. For example, a divorce or remarriage, a job transfer or change or even the birth of a child may all force home owners to look into moving to accommodate their changing needs. Summertime is a popular time for individuals to sell their homes and relocate as it minimizes the disruptions their families may experience since most children are on break from school until fall.

For readers who are planning summer moves, legal help is available. Selling a home can be a difficult and somewhat overwhelming process, especially when conflicts with buyers, lenders and other parties cloud the sale of a home. Real estate disputes can destroy possible sales relationships and legal issues can delay sellers' options for moving forward with new purchases of homes.

How may ordinances impact a property owner's rights?

Individuals who keep up with this Florida-based real property and eminent domain legal blog likely recognize that there are many ways a property owner's use of their land may be limited. From covenants built into residential homeowners' associations to zoning laws that affect entire municipalities, how a property owner uses and enjoys their land may be affected by different regulatory bodies and documents. Ordinances are another form of limitation that could affect how a person is able to develop and use their own property.

Some ordinances are in place to keep property owners from harming each other's rights. For example, if a neighborhood has a beautiful view then an ordinance may be put into place to prevent neighbors from obstructing each other's abilities to see the desirable view. These ordinances are often called view ordinances and can impact how and where property owners let trees grow.

The difference between a property taking and a property seizure

Whenever the government assumes the possession of a person's land, the original property owner may be deprived of their use and enjoyment of it. Florida residents may lose their land when it is seized due to government action or is taken under eminent domain. This post will offer some information regarding the distinction between these two forms of property loss but readers should always discuss their real estate and land use questions with knowledgeable attorneys.

As previously discussed on this blog, eminent domain involves the taking of private land for a public use. The taking of land under eminent domain may be complete (all of the property owner's land), partial (party of the property owner's land is taken) or temporary (the taking only lasts for a finite period of time). When land is taken through eminent domain the property owner must be compensated for their loss.

A variance may help a landowner effectively use their property

It is an erroneous assumption that once Florida residents acquire a parcel of land they may do whatever they want with it. While most individuals only want to build their own homes or construct commercial spaces, others may have greater plans that do not conform to the zoning restrictions that are placed on their parcels. Past posts on this land use and eminent domain blog have discussed zoning in detail, as well as options land owners may have to work within their zoning restrictions to achieve their property goals.

One option that land owners may have to get permission to use their properties as they see fit is to secure variances. A variance is parcel-specific exception to the zoning regulations that are in place and does not affect the zoning of other parcels in the area. A variance lets a land owner use their property in such a way that does not conform to its zoning but that does not change the zoning laws that impact it.

Florida’s eminent domain laws still protect property owners

Owning a little slice of land is all part of the American Dream. United States citizens have the ability to purchase land and invest in real estate, but many do not realize that the governmental powers that be have the ability to take back that property by claiming eminent domain.

While the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of the government's ability to use eminent domain to transfer ownership to another private citizen, the Florida state legislature made swift effort to ensure that Floridians were not victims of this seemingly unethical practice.

Not all easements transfer with property sales

Easements are important land use and property tools that allow individuals to use the land of others in permissible ways. For example, a Florida resident may have easement rights to cross their neighbor's land to get to a shared road other property-based benefit. However, questions may come up when the neighbor whose property is affected by the easement sells their land to someone else.

In the above situation, the landowner who uses the easement may fear that they will lose their access to the property-based benefit if the land through which they cross is sold. If, however, the easement is attached to the land as an easement appurtenant, then it will run with the land and still be available to the users.

What are CC&Rs?

Residential real estate contracts can be filled with massive amounts of confusing boilerplate terms that mean very little to nervous home buyers. Most Florida home buyers want to get through the purchase process as quickly as possible so that they may close on their properties and begin moving into their new residences. However, before they sign on the dotted lines and commit themselves to buying their intended homes, they should fully understand all of the covenants, conditions, and restrictions that are placed on the properties.

Covenants, conditions, and restrictions are often called CC&Rs. They are the terms that restrict what property owners may do with their land. For example, a covenant may be placed on a parcel of land and be recorded on its deed. If it is there when a new owner takes possession of the parcel, the new owner may be required to abide by the terms of the covenant.

"Immediate possession" is at Supreme Court's doorstep

The Supreme Court might hear a case that could have major consequences for the power of eminent domain.

This dramatic and often-used power is relatively familiar to the public. But the general public, and even many attorneys, have no idea how different the eminent domain rules can be for natural gas pipeline projects.

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