In Florida, it's not considered trespassing to retrieve your golf ball from a private yard.
Thanks to the Internet and social media, you've no doubt heard some of the collection of strange laws to be found in states across the country. We could start with the first letter of the alphabet and point out that in the state of Alabama, there's a law on the books making it illegal to drive blindfolded.
To be fair, there's usually some reasoning behind these interesting laws. There's a story to hear, and a lesson to be learned. Such is the case of laws involving trespassing in the state of Florida.
Golf course view
Florida gets top billing as the state with the most golf courses. Both weather and lack of elevation are to be thanked for this. The profusion of golf courses has created an impressive inventory of real estate that boasts a golf course view.
What does it do for your property value? There are plusses and minuses, and one reason for this is a law on the books having to do with golfers or golf balls on your property.
Under most circumstances, a person who enters your property without permission is trespassing. This is almost universally against the law. To claim a trespass, you must have warned the trespasser—asking them to stop. To press the claim, there cannot be valid reason for the trespasser's presence.
Your property rights extend above and below, which means that someone who digs a tunnel under your property, or who flies a kite over your house may actually be guilty—if prosecuted—of trespassing.
Except for a particular instance in Florida
There are some exceptions to the trespass law. Most of them are in the case of an emergency. For example, the police may pursue suspected criminals across your property. You can trespass onto your neighbor's property to save it if you saw their kitten fall into the pool. These are, for the most part, all practical and easy to understand.
Until you get to golf balls.
Under Florida property and real estate laws, any golf course community must include a section in their deed restrictions, easements, and covenants that allows golfers to retrieve their errant balls on your property.
In plain English, it means that golfers have a legal right—at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner—to come onto your property to retrieve a golf ball. We are unaware of any restrictions pertaining to the loud color of their Bermuda golf shorts contributing to being unreasonable. Just saying.
Most property owners have minimal fencing because they don't want to block the view. If your lot is fenced or walled, a golfer is generally required to ask your permission before they enter. Otherwise, they're legally allowed to trespass and retrieve their ball.
Right through the window
As a homeowner on a golf course, you also need to be aware that the same law requiring a golf course community to include a section in their deed restrictions, easements, and covenants allowing golfers to retrieve their errant balls on your property also protects the golf course from liability from golf ball damage.
Most of these documents will include a clause stating that property owners agree not to make any claim or institute any action against the golf club or any other party—other than the golfer who caused the property damage or injury with their golf ball.
Impracticality, not to mention the rare golfer who actually will come forward and admit to shattering your picture window with their ball, is why many Florida golf course community homeowners elect to purchase the appropriate homeowner's insurance coverage.
Statutes like this one make it clear that real estate laws can be complicated. The attorneys at PeytonBolin understand real estate law and how it can affect communities, condos, homeowner associations and property owners. Contact us today to see how can help guide you through complex legal issues you may be facing.