Can I circumvent the eviction process by starting a significant construction project in my property to force a squatter out?

UPDATED: Apr 12, 2012

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Can I circumvent the eviction process by starting a significant construction project in my property to force a squatter out?

I have a squatter in my empty property who is known to me but has never been given permission to occupy the unit. I have been told that I have to evict him. However, I was wondering if get a construction permit and start doing work, will this force him to leave?

Asked on April 12, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If the squatter has never been a tenant and has never owned or had an ownership interest in the unit or building, he is  trespasser--the police should remove him for you. However, if the police refuse to do so, believing that his possession/residency needs to be resolved by the courts (they would be wrong, but it can be very difficult to convince them of that), the correct way to force the squatter out is an action for ejectment, which is  legal proceeding for  determing rights to property. (An eviction action, also known as a summary dispossess action, is only appropriate when there is  a landlord-tenant relationship.) Once you bring and prevail in an ejectment action, court or sheriff's officers will remove the squatter.

Do NOT try to force  him out with a contruction project. Not does a construction project  have nothing to do with possession or occupancy, and hence would have no legal effect, but if he is injured by your construction, you could be liable to the squatter.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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