Are you aware that you have the legal right to remove someone from staying in your home, even if they aren’t a tenant? Such persons are known as squatters, and you have the right to file an unlawful detainer action against these individuals.
The term unlawful detainer is defined as the act of retaining possession of the property without legal rights. This term is ordinarily used to refer to the conduct of a tenant who is in possession of an apartment or leased property and refuses to leave the premises upon the expiration or termination of the lease.
Actions regarding unlawful detainers are governed by Chapter 82 of the Florida Statutes. It is important to keep in mind that these unlawful detainer actions differ from evictions in that in unlawful detainers there is no landlord-tenant relationship in place whereas with evictions there has been a formal landlord-tenant relationship made between the parties. This means that there is no money, goods, or services exchanged between the landlord and the unwanted occupant in these cases.
In court, the unlawful detainer actions fall under the jurisdiction of the county court in which the dwelling is located. Unlawful detainer actions are regularly filed in situations where an unwanted occupant remains in possession of a property without a lease, right, interest, or title to the property.
It is good to know that unlawful detainer actions against squatters, like those of formal eviction proceedings, are afforded summary procedure. This means that because these types of lawsuits are time-sensitive, they are advanced to the front of the court’s calendar for consideration. Another key things to keep in mind, unlawful detainer lawsuits are only effective in removing squatters from a residence, they will not assist a landlord in evicting a tenant. If there is a landlord-tenant relationship between the two parties, then the landlord must file a formal eviction action with the court.
There are certain types of persons that unlawful detainer lawsuits are typically filed against. These include ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriend or ex-spouses who refuse to vacate the property, children who turn the legal age of adulthood and no longer have their parents’ or the property owner’s permission to remain at the property, squatters who have no legal relationship to the owner and illegally take possession of the property and house guests who overstay their welcome.
In all of the above cases, there is no landlord-tenant relationship between the property owner and the unwanted occupant. Co-tenants and co-owners are not able to be removed from the property by way of an unlawful detainer action.
Chapter 82.02 of Florida Statutes states that unlawful entry or detainers do not apply with regard to residential tenancies. Chapter 82.04 continues on to state that if any person enters into possession of real property lawfully but continues to hold over unlawful and against the consent of the party entitled to possession, then the property owner may bring a lawsuit for possession of the property. Chapter 82.05 reiterates the fact that unlawful detainer suits do not involve any questions of title or ownership, but rather solely address the question of the right of possession of the real property.
If you are a property owner finding yourself dealing with a squatter and you want to bring an unlawful detainer lawsuit against the unwanted occupant, contact us today for a free consultation. We know your rights and want to help you remove the squatter from your property and regain both your property and your peace of mind.