How Florida’s New Bill Aims to Protect Homeowners from Squatters

If you own property in Florida, you’re likely familiar with the issue of squatters—individuals who unlawfully occupy vacant or foreclosed homes without the owner’s permission. Dealing with squatters can be burdensome and costly for homeowners, often requiring a lengthy eviction process. However, proposed legislation by Florida lawmakers could streamline this process and offer relief to property owners.

Current Situation of Squatting in Florida

Squatting has become increasingly problematic in Florida, particularly in the wake of the housing crisis and the pandemic. With over 1.5 million vacant homes in the state, many have become targets for squatters. Exploiting legal loopholes, squatters occupy properties without paying rent or taxes, sometimes using fake lease agreements or invoking adverse possession laws. This not only devalues properties but also creates disturbances for neighbors.

Removing squatters presents numerous challenges for homeowners, including proving their lack of legal right to the property and navigating lengthy eviction procedures. Additionally, homeowners are burdened with legal fees, property repairs, and utility costs, risking the loss of their properties if action isn’t swift.

Proposed Bill to Address Squatting

In response to these challenges, Republican state Rep. Jason Fischer proposed HB 163, aimed at expediting the eviction of squatters. If enacted, law enforcement would gain authority to promptly remove squatters, bypassing prolonged eviction processes. The bill also mandates squatters to provide proof of rent or lease, facing criminal charges otherwise, and introduces penalties for falsifying documents or property damage. Moreover, it shields homeowners from civil liability arising from squatter-related incidents.

Supported by homeowners, realtors, and property managers, HB 163 promises to safeguard property rights and deter squatters. Endorsed by the Florida Sheriffs Association, it aims to provide clarity for law enforcement and alleviate the burden on the judicial system and taxpayers.

Pros and Cons of the Bill

While the bill garners praise for its potential to expedite squatter removal and protect property rights, it also raises concerns:


  • Streamlines squatter eviction, saving homeowners time and money.
  • Deters illegal squatting, preserving property values and neighborhood integrity.
  • Supports law enforcement efforts and reduces community disturbances.


  • Raises questions about due process and potential abuse by homeowners.
  • Possibility of confusion among law enforcement and unintended consequences.


Squatter issues pose significant challenges in Florida, and the proposed bill offers a potential solution by facilitating squatter eviction and safeguarding property rights. While not without drawbacks, HB 163 represents a step toward addressing this complex problem. Your feedback on this issue is welcome in the comments section below.

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