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There was a recent article on cracked.com discussing an individual who accidentally purchased a tiny strip of land, worth approximately 50 dollars, thinking he was purchasing the house it ran through. There is a picture of the land in the article. The strip of land stretches from the front lawn, through the two combined garages of the dulpex, and back out of the back lawn.

It's been suggested he could try to extort his money back by threatening to have the house on his land destroyed, or build eye sores on the land bad enough to encourage the owners of the duplex to buy our the land to get rid of the eye sore.

Could a man legally demand money from the owners of the duplex in this, or some similar manner when the duplex does technically reside partially on his land?

  • Discussed but not the direct question so a comment. Owner can't tear down the walls. Assuming a common owner (ie the developer) owned all three parcels when the walls were built, they are automatically party walls in Florida: google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://… – user662852 Dec 5 '19 at 2:51
  • @user66285 That's an interesting point. I'm not sure how it applies. Aren't party walls about 2 adjoining buildings built on 2 adjoining pieces of property? But in this case, there are 2 adjoining buildings built on 3 pieces of property that aren't all adjoining. It seems to me we have one too many property owner to call this a party wall. – Just a guy Dec 11 '19 at 18:37
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TL;DNR: As is so often the case, we can't give a definite answer to your questoin. In many states, the owner could extort the neighbors by installing an spite fence, but these are illegal in Florida. And under Florida law, it is also possible the neighbors have a legal right to use the land, but the requirements are so strict it seems unlikely they can. We need to know more before we can say for sure what the legal outcome will be.

Eye Sores, Spite Fences & Spite Houses: There is a long history of Americans using what the OP calls "eyesores" to extort their neighbors who refuse to buy their land. Eye sores are so common, they have their own name -- spite fence -- Wikipedia page, and laws. (In Seattle, there is even a spite house!) Most states control spite fences by imposing restrictions on the height of fences. In Florida, case law says a fence is a nuisance if it was built only out of malice.

Adverse Possession: The most obvious justification for the neighbor’s use of the property is adverse possession. Adverse possession allows someone who has been using another’s property for a long time without permission to get title to it. Under Florida law, adverse possessors must also have either: 1) Paid the property taxes regularly; 2) Have relied on a filed title. Since this property was just sold at tax auction, the neighbors obviously have not been paying the taxes. As for the title requirement, who knows?

Easements It is possible the neighbors could have an easement to use the property. Since the article doesn’t mention an easement, it seems unlikely they have an explicit one. Under the common law of Florida, prescriptive easements (easements by possession) cannot be given for the entire property. Whether this use is “limited” enough to justify a prescriptive easement is not clear.

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Probably not

It’s extremely likely that the adjoining properties have easements for support over the land which gives them the right to build on it.

Even if they don’t, he can’t damage their property by removing the essential structures on his land. He could sue for trespass which his neighbors could easily settle by offering to compensate him for his loss - the $50 the land is worth.

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  • I know someone says the property is worth $50, but I can't see any reason why this property should have any value all. I doubt the neighbors will buy it, since they already effectively own it. Can you think of any other reason it would have value? – Just a guy Dec 5 '19 at 18:50
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Yes, as long as you follow zoning laws and all other applicable laws, you can build what you want on the land.

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