Squatter Rights in Florida

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“What is Squatter Rights in Florida? Some homeowners consider it a legitimate concern that squatters take over their properties without permission and even claim ownership.”

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Squatter Rights in Florida

If you know Florida squatter’s rights laws, it will be easier for you to avoid being evicted unlawfully. Below is a breakdown of what you need to know about Squatter Rights in Florida.

 

Squatter Rights in Florida: What You Need to Know

There are many reasons someone might occupy an abandoned property in Florida, such as moving into a foreclosed house or miscommunication with the landlord. The only way for the landlord to legally remove a squatter is to follow standard Florida eviction laws.

A squatter may gain ownership of the property after living there for seven years, regardless of how they arrived on the property. Following that, a squatter can file for adverse possession in court. Property taxes and color of title are usually required to file for adverse possession.

People who live on land without the owner’s permission are usually called squatters. Essentially, people who live on land without paying rent are considered squatters.

 

Adverse Possession Claims: A Closer Look

 

Possessions in Actual

A person is said to be in actual possession of the property when they are physically present in it. Second, they should maintain the property as they would if they were the owner, including beautification and general upkeep.

 

Possession with open and notoriety

The squatters must maintain a prominent presence on the property in an open and notorious possession. They cannot conceal their presence or attempt to hide it. As with actual possession, they must live by the laws of the land.

 

Possession on an ongoing basis

A person must occupy a property consistently for a certain period without interruption to qualify for squatters’ rights in Florida. If a person leaves and returns, the time resets. To prove the squatters have not maintained continuous possession of the property, you must look for signs that they are not there.

 

Possession exclusive

It is common for multiple squatters or groups of squatters to occupy an abandoned property. They cannot claim adverse possession if they occupy the same space.

In Florida, it is essential to consider exclusive possession when naming someone a rightful squatter or a trespasser. The squatters (one family or group who can prove they are together) need this to live on the property.

 

Possession of a hostile object

As a final condition, the squatter must have hostile possession. Legally, hostile possession does not require violent intentions or danger on the part of the squatter. There are three ways to define hostile possession.

  • Many people consider it to be a basic job. This is because it has yet to be known that the property or land is the property of another.
  • Also, hostile possession could indicate that a person knows they are intruding and has no legal right to be there.
  • In certain states, there are states where a hostile claim may also result from an honest error, where people think that the land belongs to them or believe they are entitled to it due to inaccurate land deeds or unclear property lines.

The state of Florida defines hostile possession as following these two explanations: the party knows they’re trespassing, or the party made a good faith mistake and believes they have the right to be on the property.

 

Adverse Possession in Florida

In Florida, squatters have the right to make an adverse possession claim. However, the requirements vary from state to state and depend on the occupation’s circumstances.

 

Adverse Possession in Florida

 

You can find a brief guide to Florida’s adverse possession rules here.

  • Before claiming adverse possession, a squatter must have occupied a piece of property for seven years.
  • Someone must have paid and kept up the property taxes within that time.
  • It is also necessary to have a color for the title.

There will usually be a typo or an incorrect detail concerning the property and its address, making it appear as if the document is legal proof of ownership. Still, it’s usually the color of the title. The establishment of adverse possession is rigid for a squatter without a color of title.

 

Don’t allow squatters to settle.

Owners and landlords can protect their property from squatters before or after they find it. Here are a few tips for dealing with squatters and keeping your property legal.

 

Squatters before they occupy the property

Taking steps to discourage potential squatters and protect your property is the best thing a property owner can do.

 

Make sure you invest in security cameras and alarm systems.

Good security puts squatters off a property instantly. You are quickly notified and can act immediately – before someone can settle in – if they break in. Security systems are expensive, but so are lengthy eviction battles. This is a worthwhile expense to prevent losing control of your property- or even legal ownership.

 

When you cannot visit your vacant property, have a neighbor check it out.

As soon as you become aware of suspicious activity, you’re more likely to be able to get rid of squatters. If squatters see you or someone else regularly inspecting the property, they might not consider it a viable option for a squat.

 

Maintain a lived-in appearance.

It is also essential to look for empty spaces. Squatters may assume someone is living there if the house’s outside looks like someone cares for it.

 

You should secure every entry point possible.

Squatters can claim a rental property right on your property. This can happen if someone left it unlocked or damages the door, gate, or window, making it easy for someone to get in. If you still need a fence, install a marked and double-locked one.

 

Invest in a professional property management company.

A professional property manager can find suitable, reliable tenants to lease your property much faster than you can in most cases. Squatters tend to target vacant buildings, so having a legally paying tenant will significantly reduce their likelihood of invasion.

 

Squatters already occupy the property.

If you have squatters on your property, you can follow Florida laws if they make it onto your property. It’s always best to avoid the problem in the first place.

 

Notify the landlord that you are evicting.

If you want to remove a squatter, you should evict them legally. There is a process to follow, but it is pretty simple and will usually yield the results you want. Discover below how Florida handles evictions.

 

Turn off the electricity and water.

The squatter may give up and leave if the property has no working amenities. A landlord or owner should cut off the power and water supply. If a squatter is not prepared to live without these things, they are more likely to leave.

 

Observe the squatter’s departure.

The continuous possession rule applies to this case. If a squatter leaves the property at any time- they have broken continuous possession of it, so you can quickly reclaim it.

 

Process of Eviction

A squatter’s eviction in Florida is pretty straightforward. There is no specific process for evicting them – everything works the same for any other resident. You can choose between two eviction notice options to file an eviction lawsuit against a squatter in Florida. These are the two eviction notice options you can use:

 

Notice of three days to quit or pay

Typically, this eviction notice gives the tenant three days to pay rent or vacate the property. If the tenant does not comply after three days, the landlord may file a lawsuit for eviction.

Law enforcement can intervene once someone files a lawsuit. They can remove trespassers from the property as a court decides.

 

Leaving without condition

The landlord issues an unconditional quit notice to inform the tenant that they have a certain amount of time before taking further action if they do not have a valid lease agreement. Depending on the type of lease, the person gets a different length of time.

A seven-day notice is sufficient if there was no agreement or the lease was week-to-week. When the tenant has a month-to-month lease, you can give them a 15-day notice to quit. You can give them a 30-day notice to leave if they have a quarterly tenancy agreement.

It is possible to give 60 days’ notice if they have an annual tenancy agreement (year-to-year). If the occupant fights the eviction, completing it usually takes a week.

Usually, if the squatter doesn’t have a valid reason to be there, the court will decide whether to evict them. The landlord usually wins the decision unless the squatter has an excellent reason to be there.

Squatters who refuse to vacate a property at the end of an eviction lawsuit are often removed by force by the sheriff. Law enforcement receives the lawsuit. Be aware of Florida’s security deposit laws, whether you’re evicting a squatter or a former tenant.

 

Criminal Trespassers and Trespassing Laws

To protect your property rights, you should understand your local trespassing laws. In Florida, authorities can consider trespassing a criminal offense, which can be a powerful way to expel squatters.

  • People who trespass on your property do so without your permission.
  • Refusal to leave can result in criminal trespass charges, often in fines and jail time.
  • It is important to remember that in Florida, trespassing requires notification that a person is on someone else’s property.
  • Posting a “no trespassing” signs and providing written notices to trespassers to speed up this process can be helpful.

 

Trespassing Is The Same As Squatting.

The law treats squatting and trespassing differently despite their similarity. The authorities treat criminal trespass as a criminal offense, while they treat civil squatting as polite.

The property owner can, however, file a lawsuit to evict the squatter and claim unlawful detainer to view the squatter as a criminal.

 

Squatters in Florida: How to Remove Them

Since Florida lacks laws specifically governing evictions of squatters, you must file a lawsuit to remove them. You must first provide the squatter with an eviction notice to file the lawsuit.

In the state of Florida, there are 3 types of eviction notices:

  • Unconditional 7-Day Quit Notice: A tenant who commits a severe lease violation, such as causing excessive property damage, will typically receive this notice that doesn’t give them time to ‘cure’ the violation.
  • The 3-Day Notice to Quit or Pay: In this notice, you let the tenant know they have only 3 days to pay the rent or leave. Fulfilling a lawsuit for unlawful detainer is only possible if these options are taken.
  • A 7-Day Notice to Cure: Tenants who have violated lease agreements should receive this notice so they can ‘cure’ their violation before an eviction is filed.

 

FAQs: Squatter Rights in Florida

 

Is it necessary for settlers to pay property taxes to claim a property?

An adverse possession claim is more likely to be successful if a squatter has paid property taxes.

 

In Florida, can landlords remove squatters on their own?

There is no right for landlords in Florida to evict squatters legally. You can only follow legal eviction procedures to evict a squatter from their property.

 

Under Florida law, does squatting constitute trespassing?

Squatting is not always considered trespassing. Florida’s laws protect people who follow the laws for adverse possession in Florida. If they don’t follow these rules, they may face trespass charges.

 

Is there a property that attracts squatters more often than others?

It is easy for squatters to take over a vacant, abandoned, or otherwise empty home.

 

Conclusion

You can protect your property from squatters by understanding the law of Squatter Rights in Florida, taking preventative measures, and understanding the eviction process. If you are in a challenging situation, do not hesitate to seek legal advice and speak with local authorities. Staying informed and proactive will pay off in the end.

If you follow these steps and oversee your property, you can avoid the hassles and costs associated with squatters. Your property is protected from intrusions by unwanted guests, and your landlord’s rights are protected. This is possible with the proper knowledge and actions.

Attorney Real Estate Group’s services include keeping track of your rental properties, scheduling regular maintenance requests, screening tenants, and more.

Hedy Ghavidel

HEDY GHAVIDEL Managing Partner  Roseville Office  1-866-471-6981  info@attorneysre.com Bio...

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