Florida beaches and real estate disputes

On Behalf of | Mar 6, 2024 | Real Estate Disputes |

Those who live in Florida or visit here on vacation have no doubt been to one or more of the state’s beautiful beaches. There are more than 600 miles of sandy beaches in the Sunshine State. Some stretches of sand have sparked real estate disputes in the past when public beachgoers set up their chairs, towels and umbrellas in a privately owned area.

People are often surprised to learn that some parts of certain beaches in Florida are privately owned. The owner might be an individual or a business, such as a restaurant or hotel. Real estate disputes involving beach properties can be quite complex and stressful to resolve, which is why it’s best to seek legal guidance for support as soon as a problem arises.

What does MHWL mean regarding real estate disputes?

The acronym MHWL stands for the median high-water line. As the tide moves in and out throughout the day, a line becomes visible between wet and dry sand. Florida law states that all land on the seaward side of the MHWL is slated for public use. However, some property owners own all the land, including dry sand, straight up to the MHWL, which means they can post “Keep off” signs that beachgoers must obey.

This is a complex legal issue because another clause known as the “customary use” clause often comes into play when real estate disputes arise over privately owned sand. If a stretch of sand has been used by the public for 50 or more years, it falls under “customary use” protection, meaning that even if it is privately owned, the public may continue to use it if they have done so for years without repercussion. An experienced real estate law attorney can help resolve Florida beach property disputes.


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