DeSantis says ‘property rights’ central to Florida’s leading fight against squatters

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) stressed the need for homeowners to have property rights against squatters, arguing that his state is taking the lead on addressing this topic.

The Florida governor recently signed legislation to criminalize squatting, which would make it illegal for squatters to move into private property. DeSantis noted how some homeowners in states, such as California and New York, will get punished for trying to remove squatters from their home. He said homeowners need to be allowed to stand up against this practice.

“But it’s important for our state to lay down the law because we have a lot of seasonal residents,” DeSantis said on Fox News’s Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo. “And it’s not just wealthy people. We’ve got a lot of middle-income retirees, they spend most of the year in Florida, but maybe they’ll go to Michigan or Wisconsin or New York or even Canada for the summer. How could it be possible or acceptable for them to come back from summer and find out that somebody’s moved into their home and that there’s very little they can do about it immediately, and they’ve got to wait seven or eight months to go through a process? That’s unacceptable.”

DeSantis also described this new legislation against squatting as “the foundation of everything we’re trying to do in Florida,” referencing how important individual rights are to a free society. He added that he was glad Florida is the state that is taking the lead on this growing topic.

The legislation, signed into law by DeSantis on Wednesday, allows property owners to call the sheriff’s office to remove squatters if the squatters are not able to produce documents showing they are authorized to live there. It also allows owners to file an affidavit showing ownership of the property. 

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Additionally, squatters who damage a home face a second-degree felony charge, and those who fraudulently sell or lease a property face a first-degree felony.

When signing the legislation, DeSantis argued that many states with Democratic leadership are “siding with the squatters,” adding that squatters should not have a right to commandeer another person’s home.

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