Can you be fined for violating an unrecorded easement? Breinig v. Martin County

by Cate Moore on November 10, 2014

Pacific Legal Foundation has taken on a Florida case that asks the question: is an unrecorded conservation easement enforceable?

Robert and Anita Breinig own the Flash Beach Grille in Martin County, Florida.  Unknown to them, a previous owner had set aside a portion of the property under a conservation easement to obtain a county permit.  Martin County failed to record the easement and it therefore did not turn up in a title search when the Breinigs bought the property.

The Breinigs business grew and they expanded into the set-aside property.  Martin County “rediscovered” the easement and is now attempting to collect on fines for easement violations.

Florida law does not recognize the validity of unrecorded easements, so the Breinigs are suing to make the county stand down.  Details may be found at:

The situation may be different in California, where the title company is on the hook for an incomplete title search.  Still, how is a person supposed to honor an agreement that is not available for inspection?

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