Those who own beach property know it comes with some benefits and risks. When looking at property in Florida on the emerald coastline of the panhandle, these benefits can include sugar white sand and beautiful green waters. The risks can include the occasional hurricane and the increased wear and tear that comes with exposure to saltwater and wind. These risks should balance out with the joy of owning beachfront property. But what happens when the county pushes back against your claim of ownership? That is the question in a dispute that has been going on in Walton County over the last few years.

What is this dispute?

The dispute involves a lawsuit between the county, Walton County, and 1,194 property owners. The property owners claim the beaches behind their homes are private while the county states the beaches are public. Private property owners are putting up fences and signs to discourage public use and the county continues to allow vendors to operate commercial enterprises on this stretch of beach.

What led to the dispute?

Back in 1949, a property owner designated the beach area in question as a “swimming park.” However, the homeowners counter the public declaration was not enough. They state the paperwork was not officially executed, as a result the ownership was not truly shifted to the county.

The county counters this argument by stating the public has enjoyed use of these beaches for “time immemorial.” As a result, they public should continue to be able to have access to these 26 miles of coastline.

What is happening right now?

The residents of Seagrove subdivision who own the private residences noted above have filed a lawsuit against the county in Federal Court. We will provide updates as they become available. The case provides one example of the type of real estate disputes that can arise in Florida. If you find yourself facing a similar dispute, an attorney experienced in this niche area of law in this location can help discuss potential options for resolution.