Recently, Florida real estate laws made headlines when a member of the United States Military attempted to return home from duty and found that his home was occupied by squatters. The squatters allegedly claimed to have made an oral agreement with the soldier’s property manager that allowed them to reside in the property. While the property manager vehemently disputed the agreement ever existed, the police were unwilling to intervene and called the issue a civil matter.
The outcry from the occurrence calls into questions Florida’s real estate laws directed at property rights. Florida has one of the nation’s strongest property rights laws. One of the protected property rights is that of leasehold, which creates a legal interest in real property. Therefore, even fraudulent claims, such as the one at hand, are highly protected and the squatters are due process rights before being thrown out. The Florida Statutes provide a cause of action whereby squatters can be removed from the property, however it requires court action.
Similar to Florida’s eviction statute, Florida’s ejectment statute provides an avenue of relief for record title owners who need a party out of their property. However, contrary to an eviction proceeding, the individuals in an ejectment action do not have a lease. Traditionally, the ejectment statute has been limited to those situations where a co-habitating relationship has ended and one party refuses to leave the premises. However, as the real estate market crashed in late 2007, and more home were left vacant, the ejectment statute became prevalent with squatters.
Since the crash, many Florida homeowners have found that their abandoned rental properties are occupied by squatters. The process is a nightmare for the homeowner because if the squatter claims any right to the property, the matter is no longer a trespass issue, and becomes a civil matter prohibiting the police from intervening. Therefore, to obtain possession, legal action is required.
If you find yourself dealing with squatters, or an unwanted party in possession, call the experienced attorneys at DeWitt Law Firm to discuss your options. We are here to help and can assist you in obtaining the necessary writ of possession to regain control of your property.