Squatter Alert! Protecting Your South Florida Paradise from Unwanted Guests

Strange people shacking up in empty vacation homes is on the rise! This is termed, "Squatting", and it will cost you a lot of money to remove these "squatters" from your home, and also repair the damage they cause. Read on to learn how you can protect your property.


Mercedes Jorge

4/1/20242 min read

black DSLR camera near sunglasses and bag
black DSLR camera near sunglasses and bag

In South Florida, the phenomenon of squatters occupying vacation homes, especially when the properties are left vacant, poses a significant challenge to homeowners. The allure of South Florida's climate and lifestyle makes it a prime location for vacation properties, which, when unoccupied, become targets for squatters seeking temporary or even long-term residence without the owner's consent.

Squatters' rights, or adverse possession laws in Florida, have specific requirements that can make it challenging for property owners.

A squatter must occupy a property continuously for seven years, maintain or improve the property, and pay property taxes to potentially gain legal ownership through adverse possession. These laws, while seemingly stringent, can be leveraged by squatters who are well-versed in navigating the legal system, creating a daunting task for property owners to reclaim their rights​​​​​​.

Recent legislative efforts aim to tilt the balance back towards property owners.

Lawmakers have proposed bills to transfer certain rights back to the rightful property owners, making it easier to remove squatters from their properties. These legislative changes are in response to the increasing number of cases where squatters have caused significant damage and distress to homeowners, with reports of damages reaching upwards of $40,000​​.

To protect your property from squatters, it's essential to take proactive steps.

Regular visits to the property, maintaining a lived-in appearance, and investing in security systems can deter squatters from targeting your property. Screening tenants carefully and addressing lease violations promptly are also critical measures to prevent unauthorized occupancy​​.

For those facing the issue of squatters, the legal process involves serving an eviction notice, filing an unlawful detainer lawsuit, and, if necessary, involving the court and law enforcement to physically remove squatters from the property.

It's important to note that squatters are not protected by Florida’s landlord-tenant laws, which can expedite their removal through an unlawful detainer action​​.

Considering the complexities and potential legal entanglements associated with squatters, engaging a professional home watch service can be a valuable investment.

Our team of Peace Makers will conduct regular property inspections, ensure maintenance is completed and done correctly, and can act swiftly in case of any unauthorized occupancy, providing homeowners with peace of mind and a layer of protection against the challenges posed by squatters in South Florida's vacation home market.


How to Evict a Squatter

Florida Squatters Rights - A 2024 Laws & Protections Guide