Photo of Carlos Kelly

Carlos focuses his practice on real estate disputes (sales and purchase disputes, foreclosures, title insurance litigation, commercial and residential evictions, and other real estate related claims) and business claims (fraud and contract lawsuits, shareholder disputes, and other claims between business partners). A major part of his real estate litigation practice involves eminent domain/condemnation matters, which have included inverse condemnation and Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act claims.

In addition to being admitted to all Florida state courts, Carlos is admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court for the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida.

Carlos speaks and writes for a variety of audiences, including the firm's Legal Scoop on Southwest Florida Real Estate blog. The Florida Bar’s Eminent Domain Committee, The Florida Bar's City, County & Local Government Section, and the Florida Association of County Engineers & Road Superintendents have featured Carlos as a lecturer on eminent domain topics, and the West Coast Florida Chapter of the Appraisal Institute has featured Carlos as a panel speaker on witness preparation in eminent domain cases. The American Bar Association published an article Carlos wrote about the use of eminent domain to condemn underwater mortgages (December 10, 2012 web post). The Florida Bar Journal has published several of Carlos's articles, including two that he wrote about eminent domain topics.  The Supreme Court of Florida cited his article, “Eminent Domain: Identifying Issues in Damages for the General Practitioner,” in System Components Corp. v. Florida Dept. of Transportation, 14 So.3d 967 (Fla. 2009). Carlos is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell

As usual, the year has flown by and the New Year is upon us. You might remember from my last post, that we took a Christmas-flavored look at takings with St. Nick. Now it’s time to look ahead. When my wife and I were walking in a local nature preserve on Christmas Day, I took a picture of a fantastic tree that I named the “Animals’ Staircase.”

As you can see, the Animals’ Staircase ascends gradually and then with increasing steepness.  It was easy to picture a small animal running up the Staircase to get a better view of something.


Continue Reading Looking Ahead to 2017 in Takings Law

photoIf the sounds of Christmas music bring feelings of goodwill toward all, family gatherings, Yuletide blessings, you’re not alone. Personally, I always make it an Elvis Christmas, rolling through the same ten Elvis songs for days at a time. Ho ho ho and thank you, thank you very much!

But let’s think of Santa, not just as a bringer of gifts, but as a user of property rights. After all, he lands on your roof. Get any permission for that, Mr. Claus?  What about the wear and tear to the roof?  If a typical adult male reindeer weighs 350 – 400 pounds, eight adult reindeer could weigh 2,800 – 3,200 pounds—over a ton.  Can your roof support that?  (This isn’t even including Rudolph, the sleigh, or Santa himself, who is no reed, weight-wise, according to a number of reports.)


Continue Reading Santa Claus is Back in Town and Make Sure He Pays This Time

Denzel_Washington_2013In the 1980s, the television show The Equalizer told the story of a trouble-shooter who assisted people in over their heads, with long odds.  Denzel Washington brought the role to the big screen in 2014.  If you’re a property owner, you might need to have things equalized, too, by using a law written to assist property owners.

Think about it.  You’ve put, maybe, your life savings, or retirement money, into a piece of vacant land.  You’ve done your homework.  You’ve found out the comprehensive plan and the  zoning will allow you to open a restaurant, your own neighborhood bar and grill.  You buy the land, submit a development plan, apply for and obtain the necessary permits, and break ground on construction.  Half-way through your project, you get the news that local government has changed its comprehensive plan and re-zoned your property, mentioning it specifically in the new ordinance.  No commercial uses.  No grandfather clause.

Not good.


Continue Reading Equalizing the Odds

Property Rights Flickr Kax VorpalLet’s take these in reverse order.

Do you own real estate?

If the answer is “Yes,” then you should care because you, as a property owner, hold a number of property rights, known as a “bundle of sticks.” If the government, or a private entity with the power of condemnation, infringes on one or more of your property rights, then you may have a claim for inverse condemnation, if certain other factors are met.

What is “inverse condemnation?”


Continue Reading What is Inverse Condemnation and Why Should You Care?

Objection. Compound question.

But the answers are:

  • A phrase used to describe rights in real property; and
  • Because the bundle of sticks is valuable and each of the individual sticks has value.

I first heard about the “bundle of sticks” when I was at law school. My property professor talked about the bundle of sticks

You get a letter from a government agency notifying you that your property will be needed for a public project. Now what? Here are three things you should know:

  1. You’re entitled to an appraiser. This is vital. You want to have your own expert to provide you with an opinion on what your property sought

construction moneyA good place to start is our collection of previous blog posts on various types of liens. The answer is “Maybe.” Did you perform labor, provide services, or sell materials used on a construction job? If the answer is “Yes,” and you meet some other requirements, then you may be able to record a claim of lien.

Circumstances for Lien

In most other circumstances, however, you don’t have a pre-judgment right to record a lien against real property owned by someone who owes you money. But, even if you cannot record a lien against someone right now, you may have other options. Keep in mind that a lien is merely a right to look to property as security for a debt. You may still obtain relief against someone who owes you money if you have a valid basis on which to sue, such as a promissory note, an unpaid account, or a purchase/sale contract, and the statute of limitations has not expired. In many circumstances, a lien may only be important if a debtor has no liquid resources to pay a judgment.

No Assets?


Continue Reading “They Owe Me Some Money – Can I Slap a Lien on Them?”

On October 1, 2015, various revisions to the Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Act will take effect. On October 1, among other things, the definitions of “property owner” and “real property” will change as set forth in Chapter 2015-142 Laws of Florida. The changes may limit the reach of the Second District

The Second District Court of Appeal, which covers fourteen counties in West Central Florida and Southwest Florida from Pasco County in the north to Collier County in the south, issued a decision in June 2015 that significantly expands the rights of real property owners in Southwest Florida. In the case entitled FINR II, Inc. v. Hardee County, the appellate court ruled that

the Bert [J.] Harris [, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection] Act provides a cause of action to owners of real property that has been inordinately burdened and diminished in value due to governmental action directly taken against an adjacent property.” (Emphasis added.)

Facts of the Case


Continue Reading Recent Court Decision Expands Rights of Property Owners in Southwest Florida