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Squatters Rights Florida: The Complete Guide (2024)

March 27, 16917 min read

If a property is vacant and open and has no one to check it regularly, it can be the best target of a squatter. This undesirable person has rights on the vacant property once he meets the state-required criteria.

Talking specifically of Florida, property owners, and investors must stay aware of their rental properties occasionally. As a matter of fact, Florida is one of the states with the highest squatting incidents.

Once specific criteria are met and legal obligations fulfilled, former squatters become legitimate occupants, possessing full legal rights over a previously vacant property.

What rights do squatters have in Florida? Here is a comprehensive and informative guide on squatters' rights in Florida in 2023.

So, without further ado, let's dive right in!

Who Exactly is a Squatter?

Who Exactly is a Squatter?

A squatter occupies an available property or a piece of land without the law's permission. Squatters live on the property without ownership of the plot of land. They don't even pay the rent. Conquering free spaces and making them their own is what they do!

State Laws for Squatters Rights in Florida

Squatters' rights refer to legal protections and rights that may be granted to individuals who occupy and reside in a property without lawful ownership or permission.

While squatting is not legally recognized in Florida, it is essential to note that squatters may still have certain rights under certain circumstances.

Also known as "adverse possession," these rights allow a squatter to live and retain the ownership of vacant land or property by purchasing it from the original owner.

In Florida, squatters can claim property after living in it for a certain period. As per law, a squatter must have lived in the property for at least 7 years to be eligible to apply for adverse possession.

Once individuals file for legal occupation, they transition from being considered criminal trespassers to obtaining the legal authority to lawfully continue residing in and occupying the property.

Squatters Rights in Florida within the First 30 Days of Occupation

Squatters Rights in Florida within the First 30 Days of Occupation

Regarding squatters' rights in Florida, there is a specific timeframe to be aware of. After a squatter has continuously occupied the property for 30 days, they may acquire 'certain' legal rights.

Understanding and navigating these regulations appropriately is critical to protect your property interests. Seeking advice from a legal professional can provide you with the guidance needed to address any squatter-related concerns effectively.

How can Squatters Claim Adverse Possession in Florida?

How can Squatters Claim Adverse Possession in Florida?

Squatters' rights are recognized both in Florida and throughout the country, with each state having its own specific requirements that squatters must meet.

Five key points highlight the criteria one must fulfill before applying for legal rights to unoccupied land.

1. Hostile Possession

In this scenario, hostile implies no danger or violence. Instead, it signifies that a squatter is occupying a property based on one of the following assumptions:

  1. According to the law, hostile means a simple occupation. The squatter has yet to gain prior knowledge of the pre-existing owner of the property.

  2. The trespasser understands that their actions can be considered a criminal offense.

  3. The law also considers hostile as a good faith situation where the property has an incorrect deed or clouded title for land occupation.

2. Actual Possession

Actual possession is when the trespasser lives in the property and treats it like their own. The squatters take good care of the property by doing the following:

  • Paying utilities

  • Renovating the property when needed

  • Repairing and maintaining and beautifying the property

Note that squatters cannot be treated as tenants as they do not pay rent or have no legal contract with the original property owners. Moreover, it is essential to note that holdover tenants are not classified as squatters in Florida.

Did you know?

A holdover tenant refers to a renter who continues to occupy a property even after their lease has expired without entering into a lease renewal or new lease agreement. In such cases, the landlord can initiate procedures to evict the tenant or negotiate a new lease to formalize their tenancy.

3. Continuous Possession

To apply for possession, a squatter must occupy a property uninterruptedly. They are not allowed to leave the property for a consecutive number of weeks, months, or years and they must live in Florida for 7 years to claim it as their home.

4. Exclusive Possession

According to this legal requirement, squatters filing an adverse possession claim cannot share the occupation or possession of the property with other squatters.

After filing an adverse possession claim, squatters shouldn't share ownership with other squatters. Squatter rights in Florida instate that multiple squatters cannot apply for the occupation of the same property.

5. Open & Notorious

The occupation of the land should be open. It must not be hidden that they live there. Even the owners should know that somebody's living on their property. Being prominent and highly visible is essential for a squatter to apply for adverse possession.

​Besides fulfilling the above 5 fundamental requirements, squatters are also expected to have been paying property taxes. It means they must show evidence of at least 7 years of tax payment.

Are Trespassing and Squatting the same?

Trespassing and Squatting are similar but not exactly the same. In both cases, squatters and trespassers occupy vacant property without the owner's permission. But they vary in terms of time and intent.

Trespassers Vs. Squatters

Trespassers are usually transient, using a particular area temporarily without any intention of establishing it as their permanent residence. They do not reside on the premises and do not aim to assert ownership over it.

Conversely, squatters actively inhabit an unoccupied property for a prolonged and continuous duration. They openly treat the property as their own home and, once sufficient time has elapsed, may eventually initiate the legal process of adverse possession to claim ownership.

Note: It is important to note that all squatters are trespassers, but not all trespassers can be classified as squatters.

Legally speaking, trespassing is considered a criminal act, and Squatting is viewed as a civil offense. However, squatters are also perceived as criminals when the actual property owner initiates an unlawful detainer lawsuit to evict them.

How to Remove Squatters in Florida?

How to Remove Squatters in Florida?

In contrast to certain states, Florida does not have specific legislation that specifically addresses the removal of squatters (even the place with a high prevalence of squatters). Consequently, one must file an unlawful detainer lawsuit to remove squatters in Florida.

This process begins by serving the squatter with an eviction notice, providing them with formal notification of the impending legal action. The 3 eviction notices in Florida are given here under:

1. 7-Day Unconditional Quit Notice

This notice is typically issued to tenants who have committed severe lease violations, such as causing significant damage to the property. It doesn't give the tenant time to 'fix' the violation.

2. 3-Days' Notice to Quit or Pay

As the name implies, this notice tells the tenants to pay the due rent within 3 days or leave. If they cannot do any of the two, then the owner tells the tenant that they have only 3 days to either pay the due rent or leave. If they don't do either of the two options, you can go ahead and file the unlawful detainer lawsuit against them.

3. 7-Days' Notice to Cure

This is the notice to serve to a tenant who has violated the terms of the lease agreement. It allows them to 'cure' the violation before an eviction can be filed.

How Can You Prevent Your Home from Squatters Invasion?

How Can You Prevent Your Home from Squatters Invasion?

Save your property in Florida from squatters doing the following:

  • Make sure to always pay property taxes

  • Keep an eye on your land and signs of squatters

  • Inspect your property for damages

  • Block windows, doors and other entries to prevent a squatter from entering the property.

If you are currently facing a squatter issue, it is advisable to seek the assistance of professionals such as an attorney or a reputable property management company. Their expertise can prove invaluable in effectively dealing with the situation.

Squatter Rights Florida: Wrapping Up

Having met the specific criteria from state law, a squatter can file and win a case for adverse possession. After winning the case, they are no longer squatters. Instead, they become a fully legal occupant of a previously vacant property.

You can contact our Central Florida property management company, Mosaic Services, for legal assistance and member support services. We also offer financial management and grounds maintenance services, empowering communities to shine.

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