TAMPA, FL – A Florida real estate investor is using his recent unfortunate experience with a group of individuals illegally squatting in a home that he was attempting to sell to spread the word about a little-known state statute he discovered that allowed him to circumvent a long and costly legal battle and kick the freeloading interlopers off of his property.
Sam, who requested the media not use his last name due to privacy concerns, had a Florida rental home that was under contract for sale. The property was vacant while he was obtaining permits to replace the roof, but when stopping by one day he noticed that all of the locks had mysteriously been changed.
After managing to enter the home, he discovered that squatters had taken up residence. He removed their belongings and changed the locks once again, but soon afterwards he found himself confronted by the returning trespassers. The situation became heated and the police were called, but due to the squatters producing a fake lease, responding officers told Sam that he had to let them back into the property while the issue played out in the courts.
After retaining a lawyer and preparing himself for a long, expensive legal battle, Sam spoke to the local news media about his situation and soon afterwards received a call from a police officer willing to help.
The officer gave Sam a tip on how to avoid the court system to evict his home’s illegal occupants by using an obscure Florida statute that allows police to remove them if he signed an affidavit claiming they are squatters – also known as a “transient trespasser” – and not a former renter.
Sam said that he was “shocked” at how simple it was; after first closing his court and police cases against the squatters, he signed the affidavit and police immediately removed them from the property.
One of the trespassers turned out to be a well-known serial squatter, and had inflicted approximately $15,000 in damage upon Sam’s home before being forced out, including pouring heavy grease into the plumbing. However, Sam raised his asking price for the house and received it, recouping his repair costs.
After the method remedied his situation, Sam has been spreading the word to help other Florida real estate investors and landlords.
“I try to help. I try to tell everybody pretty much, hey, this is what I did, it’s really that simple, and you just have to make sure you get your police department to service it,” Sam said. “I hope that this will help make landlords and investors more aware of this statute and hopefully encourage new legislation in other states and municipalities.”
Florida Gulf Residential specializes in the areas of Sarasota, Siesta Key, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, Longboat Key, Venice, Palmer Ranch, Osprey, Anna Maria Island and other Gulf Coast communities. Feel free to give us a call at (941) 304-1975 so we can answer any questions you may have.
Christopher Boyle is an investigative journalist for SEARCHEN NETWORKS® and reports for independent news and media organizations in the United States. Christopher helps keep a keen-eye on what’s happening on the West Coast of Florida on behalf of FLORIDA GULF RESIDENTIAL – Your Real Estate Expert for Sarasota and Surrounding Areas.