What are Squatter’s Rights?
Squatter’s Rights is an informal name for Adverse Possession. If a squatter occupies your property for a period of time and meets a set of squatting laws in Florida, then your property may legally become the squatter’s with no exchange of payment.
It is essential to familiarize yourself with landlord-tenant laws in Florida to prevent this from happening. Usually, squatting in Florida begins as trespassing. If you fail to contact the police or file an eviction toward the trespasser, the squatter may soon gain several rights. This might eventually lead them to file a claim on your property.
As a property owner, you might feel tempted to perform self-eviction procedures in Tampa, Florida. However, it’s important to refrain from this conduct. Let the law take its due course.
File the eviction lawsuit, and when you win the case, ask assistance from the sheriff or constable to help you remove a tenant/squatter who still refuses to leave your premises.
A Brief Guide to Squatter’s Laws in Tampa, Florida
A squatter must possess your property for a certain amount of time in Florida in order for them to gain Squatter’s Rights. According to Florida squatting laws, a period of seven years is considered sufficient for a squatter to claim property ownership.
The squatter also needs to be paying property taxes during this 7-year timeframe.
Under Florida Law, there are specific factors that determine a squatter’s right to make an adverse possession claim. Other states have five conditions, but Florida has six conditions that must be met:
- The squatter must have hostile possession of the land. This means they have no prior agreement with the property owner to stay on the property.
- They must satisfy the Florida squatter laws of giving great efforts to the upkeep and renovation of the property.
- Only one squatter has a single claim to the property, not a group of people. This is the exclusivity condition. The squatter cannot be sharing the property with other tenants.
- The squatter must have stayed in the property continuously for a period of seven years, as mentioned above.
- They must openly occupy the property in public view, as if they own it. They can’t be in hiding, and it should be obvious that they are residing in the property.
- The squatter needs “color of title”, meaning you, the property owner, have incomplete documents, or have not properly registered the land.
How to Prevent Squatters from Entering Your Property
Luckily, there are steps you can take to discourage squatters from living in your property.
As the owner, you must protect and safeguard your land to avoid the stresses of an eviction and physical removal of a squatter. Knowing the squatting laws in Florida will save you a lot of resources – specifically time, money and energy, so be vigilant.
Here are some ways to prevent squatters from taking residence in your unit:
- Secure your vacant property and install fences or gates to keep away trespassers.
- Hire the services of a property management company in Tampa that can track unwanted intruders in your property.
- Don’t miss out on paying your own property taxes.
- Put up “No Trespassing” or “Private Property” signs around your premises. This is especially vital in a vacant area, where trespassers may be tempted to set up a temporary home.
- If you have a reason to believe that squatters are living in your property, issue them a written notice to move out.
- It might also be a good idea to welcome the squatters in your property by asking them to pay rent. The decision is yours.
- Always regularly inspect your vacant property to be aware if there are any trespassers or squatters setting up their home on your lot.
- Ask for assistance from local police to remove the squatters from your premises if they’re too stubborn to leave on their own.
- Hire legal services to arrange an eviction lawsuit when confronted by squatter issues.
How to Remove Squatters
It is vital that you remove squatters from your property before they gain squatter’s rights. Squatting laws in Florida are not as specific in terms of eviction, compared to other states. To get rid of squatters, make sure you follow this process:
- Contact the police as soon as you find out a squatter is residing in your vacant lot.
- File a trespassing lawsuit immediately at the court to effectively remove them from your premises.
- Provide the squatter with an eviction notice right away.
There are three types of eviction notices you can serve in Tampa, Florida:
1. 3-Day Notice to Quit or Pay
This notice demands that the tenant make immediate rent payment for all past due rent and fees within three days. If they are unable to pay, then they must leave. If they won’t move out, they’ll be facing an eviction lawsuit.
2. 7-Day Notice to Cure
You can serve this notice to a tenant if they commit a violation of the lease agreement. This 7-day period is provided to cure the violation, at the threat of an eviction lawsuit.
3. 7-Day Unconditional Quit Notice
This notice is more final, and given to a tenant who intentionally caused destruction to your property. The tenant is not given an opportunity for correction of the violation, and must leave immediately before the 7-day period is over.
If you discovered that a squatter has left some of their belongings, you are responsible for them. You’ll need to give the squatter a ten to fifteen day period to reclaim their possessions.
After this period has passed, you can choose whether to sell the items or discard them.
The Bottom Line
Having a squatter in your home can be a long, frustrating process. It feels like a violation of what is rightfully yours.
At Cavalier Estates LLC, we are highly knowledgeable of squatting laws in Florida. We make sure to keep your property in excellent condition, and only allow occupation by quality tenants.
We make sure that there are no squatters or trespassers living in your unit, shielding you from adverse possession of your rightful property.