It is not uncommon for two neighboring property owners to have a dispute over the precise location of the common boundary line between their two parcels of property. Sometimes, even surveyors will disagree about where the boundary line is actually located. Luckily, Florida Law has a couple of potential solutions to such problems. Two such solutions are known as Boundary By Agreement and Boundary By Acquiescence. When they apply, these two legal doctrines have the effect of establishing a new legal boundary line between the two properties.
The requirements for a Boundary By Agreement are: (1) the neighboring property owners have uncertainty or doubt as to the true boundary; (2) an agreement between the neighboring property owners that a certain line will be treated by the parties as the true line; and (3) the subsequent occupation by the parties in accordance with the agreement for a period of time sufficient to show a settled recognition of the line as the permanent boundary.
In order for a new boundary line to be established based upon the legal doctrine of Boundary By Agreement, the neighboring property owners would have to be unsure about the location of the true boundary line, they would have to reach an agreement with one another about where the new boundary line is to be located, and they would both have to use their respective properties, going forward, in a way that is consistent with the agreement that they have reached.
Florida Courts have held that the agreement required for Boundary By Agreement need not be in writing, and need not even be an express agreement. An agreement can be implied from the conduct of the parties. Florida Courts have also held that if neighboring property owners treat the agreed-upon boundary line as the new legal boundary line for a period of time as short as two years, this can be sufficient to create a new legal boundary line based on a Boundary By Agreement.
The requirements for a Boundary By Acquiescence are: (1) a dispute between the neighboring property owners from which it can be implied that both parties are in doubt as to the true boundary and (2) continued occupation and acquiescence by the neighboring property owners based upon a line other than the true boundary for a period of more than seven years.
In order for a new boundary line to be established based upon the legal doctrine of Boundary By Acquiescence, the neighboring property owners would have to disagree about the location of the true boundary line, and the parties would have to establish a new line in some way, often by one of the neighbors building a fence. At that point in time, each neighbor has a seven-year period of time within which to file a lawsuit seeking a ruling from the Court regarding where the true boundary line is actually located. If neither neighbor does so, then the legal doctrine of Boundary By Acquiescence will have the effect of causing the new line to become the legal boundary line going forward. A subsequent lawsuit seeking to re-establish the original legal boundary line would not be available to either party.
If you find yourself in a boundary line dispute with a neighbor, the best way to protect your rights is to take legal action sooner rather than later by contacting a knowledgeable Florida real estate attorney in order to ensure that your interests are protected.
If you have any questions or concerns about the location of the boundary lines to your property, please contact our office to schedule an appointment to discuss your unique situation.
This article is for general information only and is not intended as and does not constitute legal advice or solicitation of a prospective client. It should not be relied on for legal advice in any particular factual circumstance.