Property Line

(WSVN) - Two neighbors both claim the land between their homes belongs to them. They both have surveys to prove it, and as it turns out, both called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser in hopes of getting it settled. Here’s how it all turned out.

There is this house, and there is this house. In between, a small slice of property, which is the problem.

Charlotte Simmons-Wicker, homeowner: “And this is not his property. His property ends here.”

Charlotte says this grassy area between the houses is hers, and she has the paperwork to prove it.

Charlotte Simmons-Wicker: “I have had a survey done to show him that is my property line.”

Next door, Rene Garcia has a survey as well that he says indicates in this zero-lot-line neighborhood, this strip is his property.

Rene Garcia, homeowner: “This is the survey 2018. It’s clear.”

Rene then took his survey to the city of Homestead, got a permit and started building a chain link fence here.

Charlotte Simmons-Wicker: “I think it was rude and disrespectful to put up the fence when he knew it was not his property. I hit the roof. I was angry.”

Hit the roof because in 2011, Homestead also issued a permit to Rene to build the fence.

Rene Garcia: “For some reason, they change their mind. They don’t want me to do it.”

Charlotte says they stopped Rene because she showed her survey that indicates Rene’s fence was on her property.

Rene says he started to build the fence again in 2018 because the city looked at his survey and said he could do it.

Rene Garcia: “They did. The city of Homestead approved my permit.”

When Charlotte again showed her survey, the city again stopped construction of the fence.

But this time, things got wackier when she was cited by the city.

Charlotte Simmons-Wicker: “Code enforcement sent me a letter stating that I was erecting a fence without a permit.”

Cited for a fence put up by a neighbor on what she says is her property.

You can’t make that up.

But the dispute over who owns this strip of land leaves neither homeowner laughing, because they both have surveys that show they own it.

Patrick Fraser: “So whose survey is right?

Rene Garcia: “That’s the problem.”

Well, Howard, you have two surveys that each owner says proves they own this piece of the yard. How do you determine who owns the property?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Legally, it can be done, and if the neighbors disagree over the surveys, you go back to when the land was subdivided into lots and were officially recorded into what are called blocks and lots with the county. If that does not give you an answer, then you get another survey to show if the fence is in the right spot. If that fails, you go to court.”

Not only did I have the two surveys, Miami-Dade County’s plat review section sent us a clear copy of the plat book that shows the neighborhood before the houses were built.

Homestead had all that information, and the spokesman Zackery Good wrote: “The city issued the fence permit to Mr. Garcia but believes he built it on the wrong side of the property line. The only thing that will prove Mr. Garcia’s case is an as-built survey identifying the location of the fence in relation to the property line.”

Rene Garcia has until April to get that survey, and a magistrate will then determine who owns the property.

In the meantime, the code violation against Charlotte for the fence had been put on hold until the magistrate settles the dueling survey case.

Rene Garcia: “How they got a survey done that way? No idea.”

Rene said when he gets his tax return, he will get that as-built survey to prove his fence is in the right spot.

Charlotte said he is wasting his time. It’s her property.

Charlotte Simmons-Wicker: “He chooses not to listen. He wants his fence.”

The battle over the dueling surveys goes on.

If Rene cannot afford that as-built survey, then he probably won’t be able to prove it’s his property. He loses, and Charlotte wins. We’ll let you know what eventually happens.

Also, if a neighbor tries to build a fence on your property, fight it. Because if it stays there for seven years, it becomes their property.

Surveyed the scene and feel you can’t draw up a solution? Getting tired of dueling with them? Land with us, and let us map out a plan to help you.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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