Coral Springs to act against squatters

Coral Springs is considering introducing an ordinance to deal with squatters and those who illegally rent rooms in single-family or multi-family homes.

At a recent Coral Springs City Commission meeting, Mayor Skip Campbell asked city staff to look at an ordinance passed by Coral Gables on this issue. City officials will discuss the issue further at a workshop before the city decides on its course of action.

“I have been getting a lot of calls from a lot of citizens that there are squatters and people renting rooms in houses that shouldn’t be doing it,” said Campbell. “It seems to be more than a casual problem. We have to make sure it is stopped so that our citizens can enjoy their homestead and their homes.”

An ordinance along the lines of the one that Coral Gables passed would give police officers greater authority to go into homes and remove people from the property, Campbell said. “I don’t want to have to go through an eviction process. We can use trespass to get them out of the property.”

The mayor also sounded a warning to property owners who illegally rent out rooms to people. “If you have homestead exemption, we are going to seek that the homestead exemption be taken away,” he said. “If your homestead exemption is taken away, it is going to cost you a lot of back taxes. Let us keep to the rules.”

The League of Cities has discussed the issue of people being able to rent out rooms on a short-term basis, sometimes for just the weekend, through the Airbnb website, Commissioner Dan Daley said. The city should consider the issue and think about ways to stop the practice, he added.

Commissioner Joy Carter, a real estate agent by profession, asked the city to send out letters to real estate offices, encouraging them to reprogram combination lockboxes that they use. Changing the factory code in lockboxes will stop people from illegally entering houses, she said.

The city currently has a program by which landlords have to register their single-family or multi-family rental units with the city. The registration has to be renewed annually. City Manager Erdal Donmez said the city was open to the idea of amending its ordinance, if needed, after reviewing the one recently passed by Coral Gables.

Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel

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