World & U.S. News

Not easy to squat in Florida Anymore

There are some portions of our legal system that just do not seem right.  I still am dumbfounded by the fact that folks steal and sell a person’s home – or borrow against it — without their knowledge and get away with it.  That does not seem right.

In another real estate matter, homeowners have been frustrated and damaged by squatters who take over a person’s home and refuse to leave.  There are several types of squatters. Those who literally and illegally break into a person’s home and refuse to leave.  Others are non-related people who may have been invited to stay in the home but are no longer welcomed.  Others are renters who cease paying the rent – or even folks who stop paying the mortgage.  (FYI, the mortgage holder is the actual owner.  They hold titles.)

Florida has passed a law to address most of these issues.

For the sake of brevity, I will not go into the multitude of examples of the problem.  They are horrific – and there are scores of them easily found by a quick Internet search.  Let us just stipulate that it is a very big problem.

The problem has become so huge that it has created a market for companies that can be hired to “encourage” squatters to leave the premises they illegally occupy.  In some cases, the squat-busters move in with the squatter and make their lives something between uncomfortable and miserable.

It makes no sense that a homeowner should have no power over a person seizing ownership – or borrowing against the equity – of a home they do not own.  Or from people residing in a home without authority.

The solution is simple – theoretically.  The homeowner asks the person to leave.  If they do not, they call the local sheriff and file a criminal trespassing charge.  After an immediate assessment of the facts, the squatters are told to leave.  If they do not leave, they are arrested and physically removed.  The entire process should not take more than a day or two.

If an abusive spouse can be arrested and removed on the spot … or if a burglar can be arrested and removed immediately — why not the abusive squatter?

What cockamamie laws shift the constitutional property rights from the owner to the squatter?  Weeell … the laws come under headings like “squatter rights” and “adverse possession.”  The latter is a legal concept that enables a person to gain control of someone else’s property by squatting openly and continuously without the owner’s permission. There is often an established time requirement.

The manner in which laws are written and enforced can lead to long, even years, of litigation to have an unwanted squatter removed.  Laws like breaking and entering, fraud, forgery, vandalism and theft are rarely enforced in such cases.

Squatters are smart.  They know the laws.  They know that to get evicted, the owner will have to spend huge amounts of money on lawyers and court costs – while losing even more from rent, the inability to sell the property and the loss of their own use. Owners are still required to pay mortgages, utilities, etc.  In many cases, owners simply pay large sums of money to the squatters to get them to leave.

So, who supports the laws and procedures that enable squatting in defiance of a person’s constitutional rights?  Who champions the false theory of “squatter rights.”

If you think that it must be those folks on the far left, you are right.  For them it is not a matter of constitutional rights, but their generally perceived conflict between the “haves” and the “have nots.”

The pro-squatter coalition includes leftwing politicians and political activists.  They claim that property ownership should not take precedence over alleged “human rights.”  It is a matter of “social justice” – and other terms that obfuscate the facts and arbitrarily create “rights” that do not exist under the law.  In fact, it is a violation of the legitimate rights of homeowners and landlords.

These are the same folks who have created the homeless crisis that is plaguing major cities while doing little to help the homeless – and the same people who advocate for criminals as victims.

Florida has recently passed a law that reinstates the rights of homeowners.  It provides for the immediate removal of anyone who does not possess a lease on the property from the owner – with additional penalties for producing a fraudulent lease.  It also adds criminal penalties for fraudulently acquiring, selling or leasing the personal property of another person.

That seems logical.  One can only wonder why that has not been the case or the practice for so many years.

This is just another reason why so many folks are moving to Florida.

So, there ‘tis.

World & U.S. News