A package of bills to assist in dealing with “squatting,” a growing problem throughout the state, was taken up in the House Criminal Justice committee for testimony only. HB 5069, 5070 and 5071 would collectively make it a felony for a squatter to occupy a home with an SEV of $50,000 or more for a one family home or $100,000 or more for a two family home and relieve the landlord from damage liability for unlawful interference when dealing with a squatter. The sponsor (Rep. Kurt Heise, Plymouth) stressed this was in no way trying to give landlords more power in evicting tenants. This was to deal with squatters only, those who take up residents in a location without a lease, title, etc.
Committee members had concerns with the SEV threshold and many felt that should be eliminate; squatting is squatting regardless of the SEV. Additionally, there was some concern regarding this being a felony.
This package of legislation is scheduled for another committee hearing this week.
Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development issues. She can be reached at email@example.com or 517-908-0305.