The Real Deal Miami

New county appraiser cracks down on squatters in Miami-Dade

April 04, 2013 10:00AM

While by some accounts Miami-Dade county became a squatter’s haven in the wake of the recession, due to a law dating back to the 1800s, a new county appraiser may be changing all of that. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who became county property appraiser in January, has canceled 71 of about 160 “squatters” claims in Miami-Dade, the Miami Herald reported.

A provision of Florida law known as “adverse possession,” has allowed people to live in — and potentially, eventually take ownership of — abandoned homes, as long as the so-called squatter pays the property tax. But Lopez-Cantera discovered that many of the homes that had been taken possession of were still having taxes paid by the original owner. With the recent cancellations, the county appraiser lowered the number of squatter claims by 44 percent.

Misconceptions about the law also proliferate.

“You have to be in the property seven years in an open and notorious fashion. You don’t just breeze by once in a while,” real estate attorney Ben Solomon told the Herald. “If a lender has a mortgage recorded, you cannot adversely possess their interest in the property.’’ [Miami Herald] –Guelda Voien