‘Commonsense’ proposal would strengthen homeowners’ ability to boot squatters: ‘It’s insanity’

A Republican lawmaker in Pennsylvania has proposed legislation addressing the nationwide squatting surge because homeowners find themselves legally powerless to remove unwanted trespassers from their properties.Donna Scheuren, who represents the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ 147th district, introduced the Homeowner Protection and Squatter Eviction Act earlier this month and says she was inspired in part by legislation in Florida recently signed into law eliminating squatters’ rights.”With multiple, recent high-profile squatter incidents happening across the country, my office has received multiple calls and emails from constituents concerned about it happening in our community,” Scheuren said in a press release.Scheuren told Fox News Digital squatters can “easily take advantage” of a variety of buildings in her district ranging from homes to barns to sheds to vacation homes and cabins, and she hopes to eliminate the red tape in the process.DELAWARE MAN LOSES $125,000 PROPERTY TO SQUATTER NEIGHBOR AFTER TRYING TO REMOVE GOAT PEN SHE BUILT ON IT”I think eliminating all the red tape, having somebody having to go to court to prove they’re not a tenant, that they didn’t have a landlord relationship at some point, so much of what exists now. All of that is just gone, and the police can grab them, throw them out and reinstate the homeowner immediately, which is common sense and what needs to be done,” Scheuren told Fox News Digital.In squatting situations across the country, homeowners who call police to report a squatter are often told there is nothing law enforcement can do since they do not have the authority to determine who is telling the truth in terms of property paperwork. Scheuren’s bill aims to change that by allowing municipal and state officers to immediately remove a squatter from a building if the homeowner signs an affidavit stating he or she lawfully owns the property.HOMEOWNER ISSUES DIRE WARNING AFTER ‘SCARRING’ ORDEAL WITH SQUATTER: ‘IT COULD BE YOUR STORY TOMORROW’Fox News Digital has previously reported that homeowners face lengthy court delays and hurdles that can rack up substantial legal fees along with damage costs. Scheuren’s bill would alleviate that by increasing the penalty of damaging property and allowing homeowners to seek treble damages and attorneys fees through the civil courts. “Incidents such as a recent one in Philadelphia, where a homeowner paid squatters $1,200 to get them to leave because police would not remove the squatters, or in New York, where a woman was murdered by squatters when they bashed her head into the wall upon returning to her home after vacationing in Spain, are unacceptable and show the law needs to provide better protections for homeowners,” Scheuren said. “This legislation does just that, protecting the rights of lawful property owners, instead of the criminals who are breaking the law.”PORTLAND FAMILY TERRORIZED BY FIRES SET BY HOMELESS SQUATTERS NEXT DOOR: ‘MY WIFE WAS SCREAMING’Across the country, the squatting crisis has become intertwined with the illegal immigration crisis. Recently, an illegal immigrant from Venezuela bragged on TikTok about squatting and urged his followers to abuse the system to do the same.Scheuren told Fox News Digital calls from her constituents came rolling in after that viral video, and her bill addresses the issue of illegal immigrant squatting by requiring law enforcement to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if a squatter is in the United States illegally and to comply with any detainers placed by ICE.”We have to look out for homeowners before illegal or just criminal squatters. Doesn’t even have to be illegal immigrants,” Scheuren told Fox News Digital. “The fact that the criminal squatters seem to have a little bit more protection than the homeowners and the citizens of the country. It’s insanity.”Scheuren’s bill will have to make its way through the Democrat-controlled House in Pennsylvania, along with the GOP-controlled Senate, where a bill has also been introduced to eventually be signed by the commonwealth’s Democratic governor.But Scheuren told Fox News Digital she was encouraged by Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. John Fetterman recently blasting squatters and saying they “have no rights.””With the pressure and hopefully the media putting more attention on it and then bringing it to the forefront that now even one of our senators wants to see Harrisburg legislate on this issue, I have renewed enthusiasm that we might be able to get something done,” Scheuren said.Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro’s office declined to say whether he would sign either bill if they reached his desk, saying, “We are reviewing this proposal as it moves through the legislative process.”
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