Florida Governor Ron DeSantis passes law expediting removal of squatters

New law imposes harsh penalties for squatting, including felony charges for property damage and fraudulent sales

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis passes law expediting removal of squatters
Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP
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On Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill (HB 621) designed to swiftly remove residential "squatters" from properties they occupy illegally.

During a press conference at the Orange County State Attorney's Office, DeSantis explained that under the new measure, "If you're the victim of squatting, you can simply fill out a form, give it to your local sheriff and the sheriff is instructed to go and remove the people who are inhabiting your dwelling illegally. And that will happen very quickly."

The bill introduces several provisions to combat squatting, including the possibility of second-degree felony charges for squatters who intentionally cause at least $1,000 in damage to a property. It also establishes first-degree felony charges for individuals who sell or lease residential property they do not own.

The law is set to take effect on July 1.

"We are putting an end to the squatters scam in Florida," DeSantis declared. "While other states are siding with the squatters, we are protecting property owners and punishing criminals looking to game the system."

Attorney General Ashley Moody praised the legislation, stating, "Florida is once again leading the nation, this time in securing our state against squatters."

Under the new law, a property owner can request immediate removal of a squatter by law enforcement if the following conditions are met:

  • The individual has unlawfully entered and remains on the property
  • The individual has been directed to leave the property by the owner but has not done so
  • The individual is not a current or former tenant in a legal dispute

In addition to expedited removal, the law establishes penalties for those engaged in squatting and those who encourage or teach others to exploit the practice. The penalties include:

  • A first-degree misdemeanor for making a false statement in writing to obtain real property or for knowingly and willfully presenting a falsified document conveying property rights
  • A second-degree felony for any person who unlawfully occupies or trespasses in a residential dwelling and who intentionally causes $1,000 or more in damages
  • A first-degree felony for knowingly advertising the sale or rent of a residential property without legal authority or ownership

The signing of HB 621 marks a significant step in Florida's efforts to protect property owners and crack down on individuals who attempt to illegally occupy residential properties. As the state takes a firm stance against squatting, the new law is expected to deter potential offenders and provide legal recourse for affected homeowners.

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