Florida Legislature Approves Bill Banning Chinese Nationals from Owning Property in the State

The Florida legislature has approved a new bill that would prevent Chinese nationals from owning real estate in the state, which is expected to be signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis.

Known as SB 264 or “Interests of Foreign Countries,” the bill prohibits Chinese citizens from purchasing or acquiring real property in Florida or holding more than a minor “indirect interest” in such property.

The new law is seen as a response to concerns about national security and has received bipartisan support from the state’s legislators. It was passed by the Senate in a 31-8 vote and the House with a 95-17 vote.

The original version of the bill, filed in March, prohibited nationals of “foreign adversaries” from owning land. However, countries such as China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Syria were later identified as foreign enemies.

Chinese visa holders are allowed to own one residence, provided they are registered with a state agency.

Governor DeSantis has previously voiced concerns about Chinese ownership of real estate, calling it a “huge problem” in an interview last year. He said the Chinese Communist Party had been aggressively buying land throughout the Western Hemisphere, which is not in Florida’s best interests.

However, the new law has faced opposition, with Chinese Americans demonstrating outside the Florida State Capitol, chanting “Florida is our home.” More than 100 people opposed the bill at a committee hearing last month, citing fears that it would lead to racial profiling and prejudice.

Opponents also argue that the new law goes against the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing-related activities based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, and sexual orientation.

Florida is not the only state to have implemented such legislation, with South Carolina’s Senate also passing a law prohibiting “alien land ownership” earlier this year. Eleven other states have also discussed or implemented laws related to Chinese land ownership.