All posts tagged: Environment

HISTORY SURPRISE?

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Guess who’s a loyal British colony during the American Revolution?  FLORIDA!  All that messy business at Valley Forge, the Boston Tea Party, the Declaration of Independence—all that happened while Florida was Great Brittan’s 14th American colony.

Isn’t that a fun fact?

Via the Treaty of Paris, Florida is peacefully ceded from Spain to Great Britain from 1763 to 1784, and then the second Treaty of Paris peacefully cedes Florida back to Spain.  So during the hard winter at Valley Forge, British soldiers could come on leave straight to sunny Florida.  Here in St. Augustine, Samuel Adams and John Hancock were burned in effigy in the Plaza, and three of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were imprisoned in the Castillo de San Marcos:  Thomas Heyward, Jr., Arthur Middleton, and Edward Rutledge.

These little historical gems can make for superb conversational gambits, like at a party or trying to impress a date, but other times, what you don’t know about the past can really bite you…right in the wallet.

Let’s say you inherit real estate.  It’s been in the family for years, passed down from one generation to the next, and now to you, the only living heir.  The property is paid for—no mortgages or liens against it.  It’s a nice little house, well-kept, and full of fond family memories.  So you move right in and feel right at home.

And THEN there’s a knock at the door:  it’s the Seminole Indian Tribe.  Just as you are about to serve lemonade, they inform you that your house is sitting atop the sacred burial ground of their ancestors.  Isn’t that a fun fact?  They don’t want your lemonade—they want you out.

Best thing to do here is whip out your Owners Title Insurance Policy.  Even if Uncle Ed had Title Insurance on the house and never had a claim, when you acquire the property, you need a Title Insurance policy that covers your interest.  (Uncle Ed’s title insurance covered his interest, and he isn’t very interesting now because Uncle Ed is dead.)

Title Insurance is a policy that protects the real estate owner from financial loss due to a challenge against his or her real estate ownership. 

You could lose your house if they have a legitimate claim, or the Seminoles could be five hundred feet off and should be knocking at your neighbor’s door—either way your Owners Title Insurance Policy pays for the legal defense of your property ownership.  Title Insurance pays to vigorously defend your ownership rights—they don’t want to pay out on a title claim if they don’t have to, but they will if they need to.  Thus you are doubly covered with Title Insurance—your legal defense of ownership is paid and if that fails, the policy is paid out.

Yes, you could still lose your house, but with Title Insurance, the policy amount will be paid out to you, and you don’t walk away empty-handed.  Isn’t that’s a fun financial fact?

Land Title of AmericaHISTORY SURPRISE?
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WHAT’S BURIED IN YOUR BACKYARD?

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What’s buried in your backyard:  a jar of cash, the family pet, human remains?  A home inspection doesn’t usually involve shovel work, and even a good survey can’t cite unmarked graves.

True Story:  There was a man who bought a new home in a new development.  Each of the lots was five acres, and on this man’s new property, the front yard had a nice grass lawn, trimmed with shrubs and flowers.  The back section was wooded.  Now the developer had disclosed that there were stones in the backyard that seemed out of place, in other words, not of a natural formation or deposit, but he gave no further details.

The developer really didn’t know what they were.  That part of the five-acre property did not fall into the construction area of the house, nor into the landscaped part of the yard.  The man moved in and was very happy with his new house on his new property, but when he went to clear a garden, he discovered a cemetery in the woods!

Nineteen headstones marked slave graves, untouched for over a century.

The man wanted none of this.  He didn’t hold a séance; he started a sue-ance.  He sued the developer, the real estate agent, and the title company.  The man felt the property was contaminated, compromised.  He didn’t want the bodies relocated—he wanted to be relocated instead!

In the end, the nineteen bodies were relocated, the developer resold the property, and the man lived unhaunted ever after.

What to do if you find human remains in your backyard:

  1. STOP.
  2. Call the Medical Examiner. In St. Johns County the phone number is (904) 209-0820.

The Medical Examiner will determine the age of the remains.  If more than seventy-five years, then an archaeologist gets involved.  If less than seventy-five years, you may have a police investigation in your own backyard.

This is not as much a property rights issue as it brings up issues of crime, public health, historical value, and respect for human remains.

* True story.  Some of the details are changed to protect the parties involved.

Land Title of AmericaWHAT’S BURIED IN YOUR BACKYARD?
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Land Title Talks about Environmental Impact and Property Ownership Rights

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Hosts Stephen Collins and Rusty Collins talk with Robert Kessler of Environmental Heritage Investors, LLC about the environmental impact on property ownership rights. Hear about what to do if you have a protected species of animal, like a gopher tortoise, on your property prior to construction or what to do if your neighbor redirects water onto your property.

Stephen CollinsLand Title Talks about Environmental Impact and Property Ownership Rights
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