Bellino bill would protect property owners from squatters

Bellino bill would protect property owners from squatters

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Joseph Bellino on Wednesday introduced legislation to better protect Michigan homeowners from squatters illegally occupying their private property.

“Michigan families going on a summer vacation or seniors heading to Florida for the winter should not have to worry about a squatter claiming residence in their house,” said Bellino, R-Monroe. “Squatting is already illegal in Michigan, but a grey area in the law means that homeowners might need to go through an expensive and lengthy legal battle just to remove trespassers from their property. It’s just wrong.

“This legislation would make the process faster and easier for property owners to have law enforcement to safely address these trespassers and allow the rightful owners to get back in their home.”

Squatting is a type of trespassing when someone enters someone else’s property without the owner’s permission and begins to take residence on that property. In Michigan, a first squatting offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to $5,000 or 180 days in jail. The second offense is a felony punishable by up to $10,000 or two years in prison.

Under current state law, police can remove people for trespassing onto private property. However, when trespassers begin to illegally occupy private property and claim they have a legal reason to stay there, the process gets much more difficult.

Senate Bill 909 would allow property owners to file a complaint with their county sheriff and request the removal of squatters from their property. Once the complaint is submitted and verified, the sheriff must immediately order all unlawful occupants to vacate the property. The sheriff may arrest the squatters for trespassing if they refuse to leave.

“This is not only about protecting homeowners, it’s also about avoiding potentially dangerous situations with unpredictable and brazen trespassers,” Bellino said. “This measure will provide homeowners a quick and safe solution if they become a victim to squatters.”


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