• Chapter 2023-33, enacted on May 8, 2023, would limit select persons from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from owning, having a “controlling interest” in or acquiring additional real property in Florida on and after July 1, 2023. In addition, the act would limit select persons from other “foreign countries of concern” from owning, having a controlling interest in or acquiring additional agricultural land as well as land near military installations and critical infrastructure facilities.
  • “Foreign countries of concern” include the PRC, Russian Federation, Islamic Republic of Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Cuba, Syrian Arab Republic and the Venezuelan regime of Nicolás Maduro.
  • Exceptions apply involving a de minimis indirect interest in real property, security interest in real property and grandfathered property acquired before July 1, 2023.
  • Criminal and civil penalties are attached to violations of the act, but a lawsuit has been filed seeking an injunction against the law’s implementation.

Now the subject of a lawsuit seeking to enjoin it, Florida Senate Bill 264 (CS/CS/SB 264), codified at Chapter No. 2023-33, Laws of Florida, would limit select persons from “foreign countries of concern” from directly or indirectly owning, having a controlling interest in or acquiring by purchase, grant, devise or descent any interest in any additional real property in Florida on or after July 1, 2023. The foreign countries of concern include the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Russian Federation, Islamic Republic of Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Cuba, Syrian Arab Republic and the Venezuelan regime of Nicolás Maduro.

The select persons affected in those countries, referred to as “foreign principals,” include government officials or members of parties from those countries such as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP); entities or a subsidiary organized or having a principal place of business there; persons domiciled there and who are not citizens or lawful permanent residents of the U.S.; and any such person having a controlling interest in an entity or subsidiary formed for the purpose of owning real property in Florida. Similar legislation is pending in additional states; e.g., Texas (SB 147) and Louisiana (HB 537).

Overview of Chapter 2023-33

Under Chapter 2023-33, select persons from the PRC are prohibited from directly or indirectly owning, having a controlling interest in or acquiring by the aforementioned methods any interest in additional real property in Florida after July 1, 2023. Foreign principals from other foreign countries of concern may not do likewise with respect exclusively to additional agricultural land or real property within 10 miles of a “military installation” or certain facilities characterized as “critical infrastructure.” The pertinent “military installations” must be at least 10 contiguous acres. “Critical infrastructure facilities” includes a chemical manufacturing facility, refinery, electrical power plant, water treatment facility, wastewater treatment plant, liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal, telecommunications central switching office, gas processing plant, seaport, spaceport and airport.

Owning and acquiring this type of real property is limited, but so is having a “controlling interest” in any real property in Florida. “Controlling interest” is defined as “possession of the power to direct or cause the direction of the management or policies of a company, whether through ownership of securities, by contract, or otherwise. A person or entity that directly or indirectly has the right to vote 25 percent or more of the voting interests of the company or is entitled to 25 percent or more of its profits is presumed to possess a controlling interest.” “Real property” means “land, buildings, fixtures and all other improvements to land.”

Exceptions to the Law

The act contains exceptions. For example, a person may possess a “de minimis indirect interest” in land. This is an ownership interest that “is the result of the person’s or entity’s ownership of registered equities in a publicly traded company owning the land and if the person’s or entity’s ownership interest in the company is either less than 5 percent of any class of registered equities or less than 5 percent in the aggregate in multiple classes of registered equities; or a noncontrolling interest in an entity controlled by a company that is both registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an investment adviser … and is not a foreign entity.”

In addition, a foreign principal may acquire additional real property in Florida after July 1, 2023, by devise or descent, through the enforcement of security interest or through the collection of debts, provided that the person sells, transfers or otherwise divests itself of such real property within three years after acquiring the real property.

Moreover, natural persons who hold a current visa not merely for tourism or official documents confirming asylum in the U.S., where such documentation authorizes the person to be legally present within Florida, may acquire up to 2 acres not on or within 5 miles of any military installation in the name of the person who holds the visa or official documents. These persons may still not acquire agricultural land.

The act also has a grandfather clause for property acquired before July 1, 2023. Foreign principals who owned or acquired an interest (greater than a de minimis interest) in real property before July 1, 2023, may continue to own or hold the real property but may not purchase or otherwise acquire by grant, devise or descent any additional real property in Florida. Persons who exercise this exception and others must register with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO).

Penalties for Violations

Both criminal and civil penalties attach to violations of the act. A person who fails timely to file a registration with FDEO is subject to a civil penalty of $1,000 for each day that the registration is late. FDEO or the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) may also initiate a civil action in circuit court for the forfeiture of the real property or any interest acquired in violation of the act. A foreign principal that purchases and a person who knowingly sells real property or any interest therein may commit a misdemeanor, but it can be a felony to violate the section prohibiting select persons from the PRC from acquiring additional real property. Closing agents with actual knowledge that a transaction will result in a violation of the act may also be penalized.

Recent Developments

On May 22, 2023, a lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida seeking an injunction against implementation of Chapter 2023-33, claiming that the law violates the Equal Protection Clause, Due Process Clause and Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Fair Housing Act. Meanwhile, the act authorizes the FDEO, FDACS and Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) to begin rulemaking concerning each of these requirements. The rulemaking process would enable stakeholders to comment and influence the final rules.

If you would like assistance with commenting on rules or if you have questions about interpreting the law, please contact Jacqueline Salcines, Esq.

Contact Our Florida Real Estate Attorney Today

At Jacqueline A. Salcines, PA, our Real Estate lawyer is well versed and experienced to assist foreigners, buyers and sellers with the purchase of real estate in Florida. If you have any questions about the new law, or when the new real estate laws take effect, we are more than ready to help. Get in touch with us by phone at 305-669-5280 or contact us online for your completely private case review. Our law firm provides real estate representation in Coral Gables, Miami-Dade County, Broward, and all across South Florida. 

Florida law allows for removal of a person living in your home by filing a lawsuit. However, the type of action you file depends on the nature of the tenancy. If you, as a property owner have someone residing in your property without legal right and title and the individual will not leave voluntarily, this is called an Ejectment. While different from an eviction, which is a remedy if there is a lease or other document which establishes the conditions upon which the person or persons residing in the subject property must abide by, in an ejectment action, the person living there has no lease, and does not make payments. An eviction is not the proper remedy for removal of a person or persons who are NOT subject to a lease and do NOT pay rent, the mortgage or utilities in exchange for use of the property. In the case of a person or persons who are enjoying the use of a property and are not subject to a lease and who do not pay rent or contribute to the upkeep and property related expenses, the process by which to remove such person or persons is a lawsuit known as an Ejectment.

Florida law allows for a legal action know as an Ejectment to remove a non-rent paying person living in your home, who has not signed a lease and has no title or interest in the property. Often times, this involves a person whom you have allowed to live in your home and who later refuses to leave when further use is revoked or cancelled. Generally, there types of actions involve boyfriend or girlfriends, a family member or a friend who has been invited to stay in your home, who has for some reason become an unwelcome guest and refuses to leave when asked.

An ejectment is a lawsuit filed to which the defendant(s) has/have 20 days to file a answer just as in most normal lawsuits. If no answer is filed within the required time period, a motion for default is filed and once entered by the court, a final judgment may be issued ordering the person or persons to leave the home. If they do not leave voluntarily, a writ of possession will be issued to the sheriff and they will come to the property and ask for the person or persons to leave and if they do not leave voluntarily, they will remove them from the property for you.

If the person or persons do file an answer, a hearing will be required and if they “lose,” meaning that the court has determined that there are no defenses as to why they should be allowed to remain in the property, the court will issue a final judgment and order requiring the person to leave your home, as above, if they do not leave voluntarily, the sheriff will remove them for you.

Recognizing that in many cases the person or persons who reside in your property and refuse to leave may have have certain rights, it is best to consult with an attorney to see exactly what cause of action you have.

 If you need to hire the services of an attorney to remove someone from your property, you should contact me. My direct line is (305) 669 5280 and I am happy to provide a free consultation to assess your situation.

Chapter 66, Florida Statutes- Ejectment, is the statute by which an unwanted guest or guests may be removed from your property. The 2021 version of Florida Statutes 66 is shown below:

66.021 Ejectment.—

(1) RIGHT OF ACTION.—A person with a superior right to possession of real property may maintain an action of ejectment to recover possession of the property.

(2) JURISDICTION.—Circuit courts have exclusive jurisdiction in an action of ejectment.

(3) NOTICE.—A plaintiff may not be required to provide any presuit notice or presuit demand to a defendant as a condition to maintaining an action under this section.

(4) LANDLORD NOT A DEFENDANT.—When it appears before trial that a defendant in an action of ejectment is in possession as a tenant and that his or her landlord is not a party, the landlord must be made a party before further proceeding unless otherwise ordered by the court.

(5) DEFENSE MAY BE LIMITED.—A defendant in an action of ejectment may limit his or her defense to a part of the property mentioned in the complaint, describing such part with reasonable certainty.

(6) WRIT OF POSSESSION; EXECUTION TO BE JOINT OR SEVERAL.—When plaintiff recovers in an action of ejectment, he or she may have one writ for possession and for damages and costs or, at his or her election, may have separate writs for possession and for damages and costs.

(7) CHAIN OF TITLE.—The complaint and the answer must include a statement setting forth, chronologically, the chain of title upon which the party will rely at trial. Copies of each instrument identified in the statement must be attached to the complaint or answer. The statement must include the names of the grantors and the grantees, the date that each instrument was recorded, and the book and page or the instrument number for each recorded instrument. If a party relies on a claim or right without color of title, the statement must specify how and when the claim originated and the facts on which the claim is based. If defendant and plaintiff claim under a common source, the statement need not deraign title before the common source.

(8) TESTING SUFFICIENCY.—If either party seeks to test the legal sufficiency of any instrument or court proceeding in the chain of title of the opposite party, the party must do so before trial by motion setting up his or her objections with a copy of the instrument or court proceedings attached. The motion must be disposed of before trial. If either party determines that he or she will be unable to maintain his or her claim by reason of the order, that party may so state in the record and final judgment shall be entered for the opposing party.

(9) OPERATION.—This section is cumulative to other existing remedies and may not be construed to limit other remedies that are available under the laws of this state.

History.—s. 21, ch. 67-254; s. 348, ch. 95-147; s. 1, ch. 2018-94.

66.031 Verdict and judgment.—

(1) VERDICT.—A verdict for plaintiff shall state the quantity of the estate of plaintiff, and describe the land by metes and bounds, lot number or other certain description.

(2) JUDGMENT.—The judgment awarding possession shall state the quantity of the estate and give a description of the land recovered in like manner.