What Constitutes Squatting in a Foreclosed Home?
Homes that have been foreclosed upon sometimes sit empty for a period of time, and when they do, it presents a perfect opportunity for squatters to take up residence in the home – and to live there rent-free.
If they stay long enough they may, over time, be able to gain ownership rights to the Florida property through something called adverse possession.
Squatting versus Trespassing
A squatter is someone who moves into an abandoned, unoccupied, or foreclosed property without lawfully having permission to do so. They bring in their own personal possessions and, in essence, openly make it their own.
While squatters typically trespass to enter the home, trespassing is different in that it is usually temporary.
Florida’s Adverse Possession Law
Florida Statute 95.18 says that a squatter can make a legal claim to the property after living in it continuously for a period of seven years. There are other conditions that also must be met in order to file a legal claim, including:
- The squatter must have assumed ownership through hostile possession. This means that the property owner has not permitted the squatter to live in their property.
- The squatter must openly and visibly be living in the property.
- Possession of property must be continuous.
- The squatter must have paid property taxes during their occupancy.
- The squatter must have lived there exclusively – that means they did not share the home with other families or tenants.
If all of the conditions are met, the squatter can file their claim for adverse possession in court and, if approved by the judge, gain full legal ownership of the property.
How Squatters can be Removed
Generally, to remove squatters from a foreclosed home, the property owner would have to follow the formal eviction process. This includes serving them an eviction notice, which may include a 3-Day Pay or Quit Notice, 7-Day Cure Notice, or 7-Day Unconditional Quite Notice.
If you have questions about Florida foreclosures or squatting on a foreclosed property, call us at Jacobs Legal at 305-358-7991.