Gov. DeSantis signs bill targeting residential 'squatters'

Article Courtesy of CBS News Miami

By News Service Florida

Published March 29, 2024


MIAMI - Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday signed a bill aimed at quickly removing residential "squatters."

During an appearance at the Orange County State Attorney's Office, DeSantis said that under the measure (HB 621), "If you're the victim of squatting, you can simply fill out a form, give it to your local sheriff and the sheriff is instructed to go and remove the people who are inhabiting your dwelling illegally. And that will happen very quickly."

The bill, in part, could lead to second-degree felony charges for squatters who intentionally cause at least $1,000 in damage. It also could lead to first-degree felony charges against people who sell or lease residential property they don't own.

The law will go into effect July 1.


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

"Florida is once again leading the nation, this time in securing our state against squatters," said Attorney General Ashley Moody.

Under the new law, a property owner can request law enforcement to immediately remove a squatter from their property if the following conditions are met:

  • The individual has unlawfully entered and remains on the property

  • The individual has been directed to leave the property by the owner but has not done so; and

  • The individual is not a current or former tenant in a legal dispute.

The law also creates harsh penalties for those engaged in squatting and for those who encourage squatting and teach others the scam.

The law makes it:

  • A first-degree misdemeanor for making a false statement in writing to obtain real property or for knowingly and willfully presenting a falsified document conveying property rights;

  • A second-degree felony for any person who unlawfully occupies or trespasses in a residential dwelling and who intentionally causes $1,000 or more in damages; and

  • A first-degree felony for knowingly advertising the sale or rent of a residential property without legal authority or ownership.