Squatters – Can I evict them?

Real estate investors often find that the property they just purchased is occupied. When you have confirmed with the bank or the prior owner that there were no tenants or tenancy agreements in place, and that the place should be vacant, but isn’t, you’ve got yourself a squatter problem.

Squatters are people who have no rights to possession of the property but who have broken in as transients, or have been put into the property by third parties who ‘leased’ them the premises. These third parties have no rights to your property either, but they’ve defrauded the occupants into thinking they’re someone’s tenants.

When investors find an unexpected squatter on their property the first thing they should ask is 1) why do you think you have a right to be here? and 2) who put you in here? 

The answers to these questions will help you determine if they just broken in or if they’ve been duped by conmen who have been taking the occupant’s money. Once you file an action to remove them, their answers will help your attorney predict potential defenses to removal and prepare to overcome those defenses.

In both circumstances we would advise against filing an action for eviction. You are not their landlord. They do not pay you rent. You do not have an oral or written lease agreement in place with these occupants that has given them any rights to possession. 

So how do you remove them? By filing an action for unlawful detainer. Much like the eviction process, they only have 5 days to respond after service with the complaint. In unlawful detainer, your job is to show the court how you have rights to possession that are superior to the occupants. To learn more about how we can assist you in removing squatters call 813-480-2309 to schedule an appointment or email me at Natalia@lcolawfl.com.

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