Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs New Law that Cracks Down on Squatters, Empowers Police

Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation into law on Wednesday, effectively ratcheting penalties against house squatters and empowering law enforcement officers to go after them.

The new law, which will take effect July 1, seeks to ensure property owners are no longer forced into expensive and lengthy court proceedings to remove squatters—people who live in properties without the right to do so.

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

The new legislation, HB 621, cleared the state legislature with resounding support. The new policy works to shorten the process of clearing squatters.

Under the new law, homeowners can file a complaint with local law enforcement, which can remove them immediately if the individual is on the property unlawfully, isn’t involved in a tenant dispute, or was told to leave and refused.

In other words, if law enforcement arrives and squatters cannot produce the paperwork to prove they are living there legitimately, officials can rapidly remove them.

“Florida is once again leading the nation, this time in securing our state against squatters,” said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. “Biden has allowed millions of illegal immigrants to flood across the border. After video evidence of their plan to take over homes emerged, we’re ensuring Floridians are protected from this egregious and brazen scheme.”

Policy streamlines removal process and establishes harsh penalties

HB621 streamlines the removal process and establishes harsh penalties for squatters, including making it a first-degree misdemeanor to falsely convey property rights or make false statements.

Additionally, it makes it a second-degree felony to trespass on residential property with $1,000 or more in property damage and a first-degree felony to “knowingly advertise the sale or rent of a residential property without legal authority or ownership.”

Governor DeSantis, during the signing ceremony, tore into Democrat-controlled states.

“They’re siding with the squatters,” claimed DeSantis. “In fact, we have seen squatters move in and claim residence. This forces a massive, long, drawn-out judicial review before they can even be removed from the property.”

“These are people that never had a right to be in the property to begin with,” said DeSantis.

Various squatting situations have affected states across the country, including in New York. Earlier in the month, The New York Post reported how Brett Fisher Flores slithered his way into a $2 million mansion in Queens.

From reports, Flores claimed to have a “license” to stay there.

The mansion Flores said he was allowed to be in was purchased by Joseph and Susana Landa, who had planned to retire there. Instead, they were dragged into a lengthy court battle.

Florida has also faced difficulties with squatters invading the state’s boating communities.