Protect Residential Owners From Squatters | Key Points

  1. Last month Governor DeSantis signed House Bill 621 into law which authorizes the sheriff, at the request of a property owner, to immediately remove and arrest squatters who intentionally trespass upon a property owner’s residential dwelling. HB 621/SB 888. To use the protections set forth in § 82.036, a residential property owner (or the owner’s agent) must file a complaint with the sheriff laying out the specifics of the unlawful detention.
  2. Upon receipt of the complaint the sheriff is to verify the person filing the complaint is the record owner of the property and then, “without delay,” the sheriff is to attempt to identify the squatters by name and notify them in writing that they must immediately vacate. Said notice can be hand-delivered or posted at the residential property. The sheriff also has the authority to arrest the squatters for trespassing “or any other legal cause.” The sheriff is entitled to compensation for these services.
  3. Under the Bill squatting is a second-degree felony and willful presentation of a false lease is a first-degree misdemeanor. Lastly, § 817.0311 makes it a first-degree felony to fraudulently sell or lease residential real property or to attempt to sell or lease residential property without having legal title or authority to do so. House Bill 621 will take effect on July 1, 2024. It is a welcome reform to Florida’s typical tenant-friendly laws and should benefit the lending industry by preventing the widespread drop in home values precipitated by costly squatters.

Click here to read the full article