(WSVN) - Her neighbor put up a trellis to block her windows. He said he owned the land. She said it’s her property, and the neighbor dispute got worse, so she turned to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Flora Navarro came to America filled with two things: hope and determination.

Flora Navarro (translation of): “I have been in this country for 35 years, working very hard to achieve my dream of freedom, which I think I have achieved.”

And she has, owning two properties. This one, that she leases out.

Flora Navarro: “It is an assisted living facility, where we welcome elderly individuals.”

For 18 years, everything was fine. Then Flora got a call that the house was cited by fire inspectors because the windows were blocked.

Flora Navarro: “He put some panels with plants on my wall, blocking the windows.”

Her neighbor had put wooden trellises with plants right up against her windows. No view for the elderly residents and no way to get out of the window in an emergency.

Flora Navarro: “Because if there is a fire, and older people, the residents, they can get burned, and they can die of suffocation.”

Then the neighbor put up a fence all the way across the property attached to Flora’s house and blocking her from going into the yard.

Flora Navarro: “The fence is screwed to my wall. To my property walls.”

Her neighbor got a permit for the fence from Miami-Dade County based on his survey that showed he owned the land up to Flora’s house.

Her survey shows she owns the land

Flora Navarro: “I have seven and a half feet over there. He wants privacy, but he can’t have privacy by taking my land and blocking my windows.”

You might be thinking, “Tear these trellises down, Flora.” But she is afraid to.

Flora Navarro: “I can’t do anything because he is a cop, and he is going to get me arrested.”

Her neighbor is a Coral Gables Police officer.

When Flora’s husband tried to open the window and push the trellis back, the officer texted, “Contact me so we can discuss what you did. Otherwise, I will contact the police to file a report and press charges. Thank you.”

Flora Navarro: “I respect the police. But the police must also respect my rights.”

And like many neighbor disputes, it got ugly.

Flora Navarro: “When I reported him to the county, the county came after me and issued violations towards me and my property, not to him.”

Flora is clearing up her violation but wonders if her neighbor has to clear what she is convinced are trellis and fence violations.


Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Even if it is the officers property, he cannot block a neighbor’s window. It’s a hazard, and those trellises have to come down. As for who owns what, the county needs to sort out the conflicting surveys. And one more thing: Flora’s neighbor attached his fence to her house with screws. That’s trespassing and a lawsuit because he put holes in her house.”

While we were at the property, the neighbor contacted us through his security camera.

Neighbor: “I am glad your cameraman is filming me, that’s perfectly fine.”

Our first question: why did he block the windows?

Neighbor: “Those windows are illegal. They are not supposed to have windows. They have a survey. It’s wrong.”

Turns out, the officer’s survey is wrong.

We contacted Miami-Dade. They wrote, “An error occurred in issuing the permit” for the fence. That Flora “owns the 7.5 feet” from her house, therefore, “the gate and trellis need to be removed.”

And they were.

Flora Navarro: “Thanks to you, to the work you and your team have done, who have helped me very much.”

But after her neighbor unblocked the windows and took down the fence, the officer went back and put pots on Flora’s property and a tarp in front of her window.

He said the county told him he could use her property. The county told us that’s not true.

Howard said the tarp is on Flora’s property and has to come down, in a neighbor dispute that won’t end.

Flora Navarro: “He is there to comply with the law, not to keep breaking it, and to leave me in peace.”

Obviously, we will keep an eye on this to see what happens next.

And by the way, even if the government makes a mistake and issues a permit, like in this case, they have to fix their mistake, like they are trying to do in this case. So don’t give up.

Blocked from solving a problem? Feel like they are copping an attitude? Let us view it, so we can open a window to a solution. In a neighborly way, of course.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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