DeSantis Ends ‘Squatter Scam Once and for All’ by Signing New Bill Into Law

DeSantis Ends ‘Squatter Scam Once and for All’ by Signing New Bill Into Law

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Wednesday to protect the rights of homeowners in the state against so-called “squatters.”

That morning, DeSantis posted a video to X explaining the need for the new law.

“Does your house belong to you?” the Republican governor asked rhetorically. “Or, if you are not using it, can someone just come in, squat for a period of time, and then claim that they have a right to be there?

“This so-called ‘squatter scam’ is something that’s happening around the country — there’s even videos telling people how to go in and take over and empty house,” he said.

“That was never how the law was supposed to work,” DeSantis said. “And in Florida, we are going to take action today to end this scam and to protect the private property rights of our homeowners.

DeSantis called the current state of affairs “absurd” and said his state would lead the way in ending the scam.

The new law, HB 621, will take effect on July 1, Tampa’s WTVT reported Wednesday.

Once it does, homeowners will have a much more streamlined process to evict a squatter by filing a complaint with their local sheriff’s office and requesting assistance.

“Sheriffs from across the state will be able to provide the adequate resources and support for victims of these crimes and homeowners to preserve their property,” Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma told WTVT.

Squatters rely on the fact that, even when they are clearly not authorized to be present in a given residence, getting them out can be expensive and time-consuming for a homeowner. Meanwhile, the can continue to live rent-free in an unoccupied home while the eviction process drags on, DeSantis said.

Under the new process, the sheriff can make a quick determination about who actually owns the property and then take action against unauthorized occupants. Homeowners who files such complaints do so under penalty of perjury, according to a summary of the bill on the Florida Senate website.

“If the complaint shows that the owner is eligible for relief and the sheriff can verify ownership of the property, the sheriff must remove the unauthorized person,” the summary says. “The property owner must pay the sheriff the civil eviction fee plus an hourly rate if a deputy must stand by and keep the peace while the unauthorized person is removed.”

If that process results in an improper removal, however, the person so removed would have recourse.

“A person wrongfully removed pursuant to this procedure has a cause of action against the owner for three times the fair market rent, damages, costs, and attorney fees,” the summary explains.

According to that site, the bill passed both houses of the Florida legislature unanimously.

Later on Wednesday, DeSantis shared another video on X that showed some of the recent horror stories involving squatters around the country.

“Other states are allowing squatters to take over homes, and those states even side with the squatters,” the governor wrote in that post. “Not in Florida. We are ending the squatters scam once and for all.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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