Florida boasts the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, and “waterfront” property, for many, is one of the most desirous features of real estate in Florida. Ownership of waterfront property that abuts navigable bodies of water (i.e., waters which, by reason of their size, depth, and other conditions are navigable for useful public purposes) also carries with it certain riparian or littoral rights, including the right to construct a dock, pier or wharf. (In this article, I will use the term “riparian” broadly, to include both riparian and littoral rights, as consistent with customary usage in Florida courts.)
What happens when a property owner’s waterfront rights interfere those of an adjoining property owner?
In the case of 5F, LLC v. Hawthorne, 2D19-2574, the Florida Second District Court of Appeals answered this question in a decision issued on February 26, 2021. As of the writing of this article, there is a pending motion for rehearing, so the ultimate disposition of the case is not yet final.