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Sarnoff Seeks Support For Squatter Bill

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Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff   (Source: City Of Miami)

Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff (Source: City Of Miami)

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MIAMI (CBS4) – A Miami commissioner is asking for the public’s help in supporting a bill which would make it easier for law enforcement to kick-out those who make themselves at home in abandoned homes.

Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, District 2, is asking everyone to contact their legislators in Tallahassee to urge them support HB#1089 (House Bill) and CS/SB#786 (Committee Substitute/Senate Bill #786) which would address, and hopefully decrease, the rising number of squatters who have taken over foreclosed and abandoned properties.

The current state law prohibits police, or any law enforcement officials, the ability to remove squatters from the vacant properties without proof of trespassing, or other law breaking.

Remax Advance Realtor Anthony Askowitz is a seller for bank owned and foreclosed homes. He said that the process of removing squatters from his properties is often lengthy.

“We had someone move in and it took a year to move them out,” said Askowitz. “If someone moves in they can fight it and fight it and say they are the lawful owner and the same time they are not paying.”

If the proposed bill is signed, police would be given the ability to remove squatters without the delay of seeking proof.

“The police walk in and they have the ability, if proof is not demonstrated satisfactory, to evict and take the person out immediately,” said Sarnoff.

If the bill passes, 30 days could be just enough to kick the squatter(s) out.

“Thirty days is enough time for someone to prove they’ve been living in that property,” said Askowitz.

The problem of squatters is wide-spread, affecting multiple neighborhoods.

“We know about it going on in Gables Estates, De Amo Estates and Davis Harbor Estates. Each one of the aforementioned homes is over a million dollars,” said Sarnoff.

Sarnoff believes that if the bill is not passed, the problem will only get worse,“The amount of vacant land and vacant homes can go up exponentially in the next 6 to 9 months this is vital for all the cities in Florida.”

Those in support of the change should reach-out to the bill’s sponsors in Florida’s House of Representatives and Senate.

In the House, contact Rep. Michael Bileca at (850) 488-6506 or send an email to Michael.bileca@myfloridahouse.gov. In the Senate, contact Sen. Miguel de la Portilla at (850) 487-5109 or send an email to portilla.miguel.web@flsenate.gov.

“I urge everyone to reach out to legislators in Tallahassee in support of this proposed legislation,” said Sarnoff.

The bill could pass through congress in the next 6-10 days and, if passed, will go into effect by July 1st.

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