Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd’s Warning To Squatters

(HorizonPost.com) – A Florida sheriff last week warned squatters that if they tried any of their “gimmicks” in his county, they would end up in jail, Fox News reported.

Last Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law HB621, a measure that authorizes county sheriffs to remove people who are illegally squatting in residential properties.

Under the law, property owners who become victims of squatters can go to their sheriff’s office to inform them and the squatters would be ordered to leave the property immediately.

The law also makes it a second-degree felony to intentionally cause a minimum of $1,000 in damage to a property. Those who lease or sell a property they do not own are subject to a first-degree felony.

The law will take effect on July 1.

In an interview with Fox News, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said anyone moving to his county who violates the laws would be locked up.

Even before the governor signed HB621 into law, Grady’s office had been using existing trespassing and robbery laws to arrest squatters.

He told Fox that states like New York and California which permit squatters to remain in a property for weeks or months are “just crazy.”

Sheriff Judd said his deputies recently responded to a call of squatters in a home for sale and arrested them for burglary. He said states that allow people to “unilaterally, illegally trespass” on a property solely because it is vacant didn’t make any sense.

The sheriff said states that have laws protecting squatters were only encouraging criminal behavior.

In signing the HB621 last week, Governor DeSantis said the law would put an end to “the squatters scam” in the state. He said other states may side with those who illegally occupy homes but Florida was “protecting property owners and punishing criminals” who “game the system.”

Under HB621, homeowners can request that the sheriff remove squatters immediately if the people unlawfully entered the property and refused to leave after the homeowner instructed them to vacate the property.

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