Squatters are Invading South Florida!

Squatters are Invading South Florida!

So, you have acquired a residential property in South Florida for purposes of investment, to use when you retire or to generate income from short term rentals and because you don’t live in the property, either you have a management company to keep tabs on the property or even just a cleaning service to keep the place tidy between rentals.

The Squatter Surprise: Uninvited Guests in Your Property

Lo and behold, some stranger or group of strangers breaks into the unit and take up residence without having your permission and may end up telling you that they are not leaving anytime soon, essentially commandeering your property, and treating the place as their own.

Incensed and angry, you call the cops, demanding that the police “do something” and toss out these interlopers who have no lawful or legitimate claim to even be inside your property, much less the right to live there rent-free while you are on the hook for taxes, maintenance and maybe even a mortgage.

Legal Hurdles: Why You Can’t Just Kick Them Out

To your shock and surprise, the police tell you that the invaders claim to have the right to stay and inhabit your place and that law enforcement cannot remove the squatters absent a court order. You are as numb as you are dumbfounded…how do I get out of this mess?

Fear not, because you, as the owner of the property and titleholder of record, can commence an ejectment action in Circuit Court to boot out these squatters and reclaim your property by obtaining the “court order” which the police told you that you needed to remedy the situation.

Taking Back Control: The Ejectment Action Process

Unlike an eviction action, which involves an arm’s length transaction where you, as the owner, offer the premises for lease to a tenant who pays rent on a periodic basis for the right to occupy the premises, or an unlawful detainer action, which is the process to use when your adult child moves back in with you after college and refuses to leave even after you ask politely, an ejectment action involves your proving to the court that you have lawful title to the property and that you did not authorize or give any permission to the occupant to be in possession of the place.

Although there is no summary procedure available in an ejectment action in Florida, where you can speed up the process in instances where a tenant fails to pay rent when due, ejectment can be streamlined by acting immediately upon identifying the presence of an unwanted and uninvited squatter living in your place and commencing the ejectment action by paying the Circuit Court filing fee of $401.00 and serving the unlawful inhabitant or inhabitants with a summons.

Crossing the Finish Line: Winning Your Property Back

After perfecting service of process on the invader or invaders, the case is underway and skilled Florida attorney can apply maximum pressure to advance the case and get you to the finish line as quickly as possible, that entails obtaining a final judgment of ejectment, which means that you win and the squatters lose, along with the all-important writ of possession, which instructs the police to remove anybody in possession of your property and to place you back in possession, thereby ending the squatters free ride at your expense.