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Florida Squatters and ‘Illegal Occupants’ are Threatened with the Newly Introduced bill ‘HB 621’

In a recent turn of events, residents of Florida saw the emergence of HB 621, a proposed bill that is related to the rights of squatters present in the state. In addition to this, this proposed bill seeks to make significant changes to “transient occupants” within the boundaries of Florida.

The New HB 621 Bill 

This bill was introduced by Rep Kevin Steele on November 21st, 2023. The first reading regarding this bill was held on January 9th, 22024, where the original filed version of the bill was presented.

According to recent government records, the proposed bill is currently focusing on:

-Possession of Real Property

-Provisions concerning unlawful detention by transient occupant of residential property

-Abolition of doctrine of adverse possession of real property

-Prohibiting presentation of false documents as valid lease agreement, deed, or other instrument conveying real property rights.

The effective date for the proposed bill is marked as 7th January 2024.

As mentioned above, this bill aims to eliminate the doctrine of adverse possession, more commonly known as “squatter’s rights,” in the state of Florida. According to this doctrine, individuals who have continuously occupied a property for a long period of time can eventually gain ownership of that property. However, the recent changes introduced by Steele would abolish this doctrine, completely changing the legal procedure of accounting ownership to abandoned properties in Florida.

Florida squatters and individuals trying to acquire property by non-ethical methods have long since abused the existence of this doctrine and changes like abolishing this doctrine are highly appreciated. Although it is important to protect homeowners and landlords across the state, the erasure of this doctrine also leaves the possibility of individuals, who are living in rented houses, being put out on the street.

The state of Florida currently allows an individual to get ownership of a property that they have managed to acquire and keep for seven consecutive years, even if the said individual has no legal document to validate their claim on the land.

‘Transient Occupants’ and Unexpected Changes 

A noteworthy change brought on by the HB 621 is the expansion of “transient occupants.” For residents of Florida, this term is used for those individuals who have unlawfully occupied residential property. These individuals, according to Florida state laws, are eligible to a swift removal process. Under the newly introduced bill, this term will also extend to renters without a notarized lease and tenants without a receipt of rental payment to the individual who owns the property.

In simpler terms, individuals who possess a lease and are required to make monthly payments, should have all the legal paperwork within an accessible reach since they can be asked to show these documents to prove that they have the legal right to be on the property.

Legal experts and analysts across Florida have expressed their concerns over the misuse of the newly proposed bill. The expansion of “transient occupants” can lead to potential abuse of tenants at the hands of landlords, who will have the opportunity to use the new provisions as an alternative to evade formal eviction process, especially in the cases where tenants fail to make monthly payments.

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