DeSantis Claims He Will End “Squatter Scam’ Once and For All

By: Sam Watanuki | Published: Jul 07, 2024

Governor Ron DeSantis announced the new bill, HB 621, aimed at tackling the squatter issue in Florida. Signed in March and effective from Monday, the bill promises to streamline the eviction process and safeguard property owners’ rights.

DeSantis emphasized, “We’re ending this squatter scam once and for all.”

A New Era for Property Owners

The new law grants law enforcement the power to evict squatters without lengthy court procedures.

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Homeowners can now fill out a form, and the sheriff will promptly remove the intruders. This change aims to protect property owners, especially those who are away for extended periods.

Fast-Track Evictions

Florida already had one of the fastest squatter eviction processes, taking about a month. With the new law, this process is expected to be even quicker and less costly, with standard removal fees of $90 in most counties and $115 in Miami.

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This is a significant improvement for homeowners.

Criminal Penalties for Squatters

Under HB 621, squatters face harsher penalties. Those who forge documents can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, while causing damages over $1,000 can lead to a second-degree misdemeanor.

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These measures aim to deter squatters from taking advantage of vacant properties.

Protecting Property Rights

Governor DeSantis highlighted the importance of property rights, stating, “If we don’t have private property rights, we will not have a free society.”

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This bill reinforces Florida’s commitment to protecting homeowners and ensuring their rights are upheld.

Simplified Eviction Process

To initiate an eviction, homeowners must file an affidavit, proving unlawful entry and that the squatter is neither a tenant nor an immediate relative.

A Lawyer Behind His Desk

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Once verified, law enforcement can proceed with the eviction. This streamlined process reduces the burden on homeowners and speeds up the removal of squatters.


Addressing Fraudulent Rentals

The bill also targets fraudulent rentals. Squatters who advertise or rent properties without the owner’s permission now face first-degree felony charges.

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This provision aims to curb illegal activities and protect prospective renters from being scammed.


Law Enforcement Challenges

While the new law empowers sheriffs, it also presents challenges. Law enforcement officers must make quick decisions about eviction eligibility, potentially leading to civil suits if mistakes occur.

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The law’s implementation will be closely watched to address any arising issues.


Sheriff's Perspective

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder expressed confidence in the law, stating it would help return homes to rightful owners promptly.

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He assured that squatters removed under this law would not be left unhoused, as they would be provided with jail accommodation.


Attorney Insights

Kevin Fabrikant from Florida’s Eviction Law Firm noted that while the law is effective, it applies to specific scenarios.

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Homeowners who allowed someone into their property voluntarily may not benefit from this expedited process. The law is designed for clear-cut cases of unlawful entry.


Governor's Commitment

Governor DeSantis is committed to protecting Florida homeowners from the squatter scam.

Close-up of Governor Ron DeSantis speaking at an event

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His administration’s focus on property rights and efficient eviction processes aims to ensure that homeowners can reclaim their properties swiftly and without unnecessary legal hurdles.


Looking Ahead

As HB 621 takes effect, its impact on Florida’s squatter situation will become evident. The law’s success will depend on its implementation and the ability of law enforcement to navigate its requirements.

Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to an audience at an event

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Homeowners and legal experts alike will be watching closely to see how this new chapter unfolds.