Proposed laws working their way through the legislature get tough on squatters

(WXYZ) - A state lawmaker wants to make it harder for squatters to take up residence in homes that don't have a legal right to occupy.

Too many times, squatters know how to manipulate the system, making it hard for law enforcement officers to remove them.

State Rep. Kurt Heise has proposed a series of bills to try and curb the problem of squatting. 

"It basically makes squatting illegal," said Heise.  "First offense is a misdemeanor, second is a felony.  It also provides self help measure for the true property owner.  You would have the right to enter the property and remove the squatters by force if necessary and not have to go thru a long drawn out legal process."

House Bill 5069 would relieve an owner, lessor, or licensor from liability for damages for unlawful interference when the occupant is squatting.  The bill would also allow an owner to use force to regain possession of premises occupied by a squatter.

House Bill 5070 would make it a criminal offense for a squatter to occupy a single-family or one or both units, of a two-family dwelling.

House Bill 5071 would place the felony provision for squatting in a single or two-family dwelling within the sentencing guidelines.

The measure has passed the house and moves onto the senate for a vote.

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