Florida Becomes First State To Ban Squatter’s Rights

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis | Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law this week that gives property owners the right to remove squatters without a lengthy legal process.

“You are not going to be able to commandeer somebody’s private property and expect to get away with it. We are, in the state of Florida, ending the squatter scam once and for all,” DeSantis said, as reported by Fox News.

The law is the first of its kind in the nation. In most states, including Texas, individuals can take over property without a lease or paying rent. The Dallas Express reported on two squatting incidents that made headlines in the Lone Star State last year. The unlawful tenants were eventually removed in both instances.

It can be an expensive and time-consuming legal process to have squatters removed. In Texas, property owners must issue a three-day notice to quit before law enforcement can assist in the removal of a person.

The Florida law not only gives property owners the right to remove unlawful tenants from their property but also includes penalties aimed at deterring squatters. Penalties include a first-degree misdemeanor for anyone who falsifies documents, a second-degree felony for damages over $1,000, and a first-degree felony for attempting to rent out or sell someone’s property.

“I want to thank our legislative body, both our delegates here in central Florida and abroad, because this received unanimous support, and it’s been long too often where we’ve seen homeowners that have spent their entire life working and earning. Some have inherited homes of parents and to knock on the door and be met with squatters,” Seminole County Sheriff Dennis M. Lemma said, according to the Washington Examiner.

In announcing the bill, DeSantis singled out California and New York for laws that give squatters rights and make it nearly impossible for property owners to evict delinquent or imposter tenants.

“These are people that never had a right to be in the property to begin with. Earlier this month in New York, a woman returned to a property she inherited to find squatters living there,” DeSantis said. “She changed the locks to get them out, and the state of New York arrested her instead of the squatters.”

The incident DeSantis referenced in New York was caught on video and reported on by The Dallas Express.

Rollingwood Management, an Austin-based property management company, outlined several steps homeowners can take to prevent the unlawful possession of their property. It recommended that homeowners regularly check on vacant properties and consider installing fences and security cameras. Making sure that doors are securely locked is also essential, as under Texas law, if a person can enter the property through an open door, they can claim residency, forcing homeowners to go through the eviction process.

Support our non-profit journalism

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Continue reading on the app
Expand article