DeSantis Destroys ‘Squatters’ Rights’ in Florida

( – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) recently signed a bill into law that will destroy squatters’ rights in Florida. The legislation allows homeowners to immediately remove unauthorized tenants without having to cut through lengthy red tape. It promises to strengthen their rights against people who would otherwise take advantage of the legal system to wrongfully seize control over their property.

DeSantis approved the legislation, HB 621, on March 27. It makes falsifying documentation for the purposes of taking property rights a first-degree misdemeanor. That offense becomes a second-degree felony if the perpetrator leaves $1,000 or more in damage to the home. It’s now also a first-degree felony to advertise a home rental or sale without the owner’s permission.

The law allows homeowners to seek the assistance of law enforcement to remove an individual as long as they meet three conditions. First, the person has to have entered the property illegally and is attempting to remain there. The homeowner also must have asked them to leave, and the person refused. Finally, the individual can’t be a current tenant — or a former one in a legal dispute.

The Florida governor’s office issued a press release offering details on the new legislation. DeSantis said the move would eliminate “the squatters scam” in the Sunshine State, putting criminals behind bars for attempting to “game the system.”

Squatters have become a serious problem nationwide, with some homeowners and businesses afraid to leave buildings unoccupied for fear of losing access. Their rights vary from state to state, but in most cases, if a person can provide documentation that they belong there — be it a bill, tax document, or even a falsified lease — owners must evict them through the legal system. Property owners outside of Florida can protect their assets by making homes as inaccessible to trespassers as possible and vigorously screening potential tenants.

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