News & Media
photo of metal handcuffs on a neutral blue background
Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images

DeSantis Signs Bill Targeting Home ‘Squatters’

A law that goes into effect on July 1 allows property owners to remove an unauthorized person from their property. Florida Realtors considered passage of the law a 2024 legislative priority.

TAMPA, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 621 in Orlando on Wednesday, ending the squatters scam in the state of Florida.

The legislation protects citizen's property rights, giving homeowners remedies against squatting, and penalties for squatters.

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

The bill allows a property owner to request an officer to remove an unauthorized person from their property, but the owner must contact the sheriff and file a complaint to show eligibility. If the officer can verify their ownership of the property, the squatter can be removed.

Under HB 621, the unauthorized person must have entered and remained on the property, been told by the owner to leave the property, and that the person is not a current or former tenant in a legal dispute.

However, the bill said that the property owner has to pay the officer a civil eviction fee, in addition to an hourly rate, if the officer has to "stand by and keep the peace" while removing a squatter.

Squatters can face harsh penalties including, a first-degree felony for trying to sell or rent a property without authority or ownership, a second-degree felony for staying or trespassing in a home and causing over $1,000 in damages, and a first-degree misdemeanor for making a false claim in writing to obtain property.

The law will go into effect on July 1.

© 2024 WFLA, Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved.