Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs New Law To Crack Down On Squatters And Streamline Their Eviction

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs New Law To Crack Down On Squatters And Streamline Their Eviction
Cover Image Source: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in a Fox News Town Hall | Getty Images | Photo by Alex Wong

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has formally signed a new law to help speed up the process of evicting squatters in Florida. Governor DeSantis signed the legislation into law on Wednesday to establish harsh penalties against squatters and empower homeowners and law enforcement to evict them. As per the announcement the new law which is set to go into effect on July 1, aims to ensure property owners are no longer forced into lengthy and expensive court proceedings to remove squatters. “We are putting an end to the squatters scam in Florida,” Gov. DeSantis said in the official announcement. A squatter is a person who occupies a property or part of land without the owner’s permission.



 

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What will the new law against squatters do?

The bill HB 621 which cleared the state legislature with overwhelming support, works to shorten the process of evicting squatters. Under the new law, property owners can file a complaint to local law enforcement about squatters unlawfully occupying the property, and they will be immediately removed without having the owner go through a legal battle.

However, for this to happen, certain conditions need to be met for squatters to be removed by law enforcement. These conditions are:

1. The individual/occupants had unlawfully entered and remained on the property.
2. The squatters had been directed to leave the property by the owner but they have refused to do so.

3. And the individual/occupants is not a current or former tenant engaged in a legal dispute with the property owner.

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Thus, for property owners in Florida, it will now be quick and simple to reclaim their homes from squatters and avoid costly delays, litigation, and missed rents.

“Florida is once again leading the nation, this time in securing our state against squatters,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said.

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Penalty for squatting under the new Florida law

In addition to provisions for the swift removal of squatters, the new law also establishes harsh penalties for squatters. Under the new law, squatting will become a first-degree misdemeanor for producing false statements/documents conveying property rights.

Furthermore, it will be a second-degree felony for any person who unlawfully occupies or trespasses on a residential property and for persons who intentionally cause damages worth $1,000 or more.

Problem with squatters in the U.S.

For years, homeowners across the country have been tormented by squatters as it is nearly impossible to remove them without getting tied up in a lengthy and expensive legal battle. There have been several reports where squatters have created a nuisance for homeowners

Last year in Texas, a homeowner told ABC 13 that she was locked out of her house by a squatter who claimed to have a lease after moving to the state with her family. In a similar case reported by Fox News in 2022, a Maryland woman found squatters living in her house after returning from a vacation. Not just that, the squatters had allegedly sold furniture worth $50,000, everything except the woman’s bed.



 

Before the recent law, squatting in Florida was legally allowed, and local law enforcement's hands were also tied. WFTV9 reported that residents of a neighborhood in Winter Park faced a “nightmare” situation due to squatters and the inability of the police to do anything. In one of the homes occupied by squatters, the occupants had covered all windows and put out full trash bins outside the home of an owner living abroad. Thus, the new legislation builds up on the problem and seeks to provide relief to homeowners in Florida.



 

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