After a lot of fighting over public access to beaches in St. John’s, Volusia, and Walton Counties, the legislature has stepped in doing some housekeeping to the ejectment and unlawful detainer statutes and prohibiting local government from determining the right of the public to have beach access without court approval with the passage of SB/HB 631. Here is the staff analysis
Changes to the ejectment statute 66.021:
Provides that Plaintiff may not be required to provide any pre-suit notice, such as a demand for possession. 66.021(3)
Provides for joint or several writs of possession and damages. 66.021(6)
Copies of instruments referenced in the chain of title shall be attached 66.021.(7)
Changes to unlawful entry and detainer statute 82.01
Does not apply to residential tenancies under chapter 83, part II [ 82.02(1)] or to possession under Chapters 513 or 723 (Mobile Homes).
Eliminates any pre-suit notice, such as a demand for possession. 83.03(1)
Requires award of double rental value on a finding that entry was “willful and knowingly wrongful” 82.03(2)
Allows for summary procedure on bifurcated possession count, eliminates three year limitation. 83.03(4)
Allows for service by posting, adds requirement to mail service to both defendants residential and business address. 82.05
Provides for damages and cost to prevailing plaintiff, and only cost to prevailing Defendant. 82.091 (1)(2).
Creates Section 163.035″Recreational Customary Use.” Prohibiting local governments from any enacting or enforcing any rule based on customary use of the beach ( i.e. public access to the beach) above the mean high tide line unless based on judicial declaration affirming recreational customary use.
Provides for procedure, notice, public hearing. Requires judicial determination in circuit court. Decrees that the proceeding shall be de novo. Provides that the government has the burden of proof.
Does not apply to any ordinance enacted before 1-1-2016