Removing a squatter from a property can be a nightmare of wasted time and legal fees for any landlord, but a Florida lawyer shared a legal trick to boot them quickly without going to court.
“Very few people know that this statute exists where all you have to do is submit an affidavit to law enforcement and law enforcement will remove the squatter,” Phil Revah, a Miami-based eviction attorney, told Fox News.
Under Chapter 82, Section 35 of the Florida code, police can remove unwanted squatters if a property owner gives them a sworn affidavit claiming the transient occupants are unlawfully residing on the property.
A transient occupant is “a person whose residency in real property intended for residential use has occurred for a brief length of time, is not pursuant to a lease, and whose occupancy was intended as transient in nature,” according to the statute.
An example of a squatter that can be removed under the statute, Revah explained, is a person who fabricates a fake lease, moves into a home and claims to be scammed when caught.
While using a sworn affidavit is an option, Revah explained that is rare because police departments either don’t know about the statute or aren’t willing to take the risk and be liable for removing an occupant.
“The county sheriff departments that do know about this statute are probably not [in] the three major counties in south Florida,” Revah said. “More often than not, the sheriff’s department will recommend to the property owner that the property owner file a squatter removal action under Chapter 82 of the Florida statutes.”
Revah cautioned that while the affidavit is useful, squatters typically “come prepared.”
“They’ve got some story to back up their already shaky claim to possession of the property,” Revah said. He added that police officers often direct property owners to go to court out of an abundance of caution to avoid being liable for a wrongful removal.
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