Georgia Governor Signs Anti-Squatter Law, Making It Easier for Homeowners ‘To Go After These Folks’

‘It is nothing short of insane that there are some who are entering other people’s homes and claiming them as their own,’ Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill that protects homeowners from squatters—people who occupy people’s homes without permission and refuse to leave—with a new law imposing stiffer penalties for squatting and providing for an expedited eviction process.

Mr. Kemp applied his signature to House Bill 1017, dubbed the “Georgia Squatter Reform Act,” on April 24, before taking to social media to announce the move, which comes amid a surge in national stories about squatters seizing control of vacant homes, refusing to leave, and sometimes terrorizing homeowners.

“It is nothing short of insane that there are some who are entering other people’s homes and claiming them as their own,” Mr. Kemp said in a post on X. “Thanks to our legislative partners, I was proud to sign HB 1017—once again making it clear that illegal squatters are criminals, not residents.”

The Georgia Squatter Reform Act, which entered into force immediately after Mr. Kemp signed it, amends state laws on criminal trespass, property damage, and the process of evicting people who illegally occupy someone’s property.


The newly adopted law criminalizes unlawful squatting, defining it as entering and residing on the land or premises of the owner without their permission.

Individuals suspected of the criminal offense of squatting will receive a citation requiring them to provide proof of owner consent within three days. If they fail to provide such authorization, they will be arrested for criminal trespass.

If such documentation is provided, a hearing will be held in magistrate court within seven days to determine if the documents are authentic and valid. Submission of fraudulent or improper documentation will lead to felony arrest and removal of the squatter from the property. Such individuals will also be subject to additional fines to cover damages, back rent based on the property’s fair market value, along with up to a year in jail.

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“With the Squatter Reform Act now signed into law, we reaffirm our stance against unwanted intruders in our state, making it clear that their actions are criminal and will face consequences,” Georgia State Rep. Devan Seabaugh, a Republican who sponsored the bill, said in a statement.

“I commend my legislative colleagues for their diligent efforts in pushing forward this vital measure, which will empower Georgia’s property owners to address intrusive squatters in an effective manner,” he added.

Mr. Kemp told Fox News in an interview that he sees the growing problem of squatters infringing on homeowner rights in places across the United States as an example of the Biden administration’s supposed soft-on-crime policies.

“This is insanity, that people just think they can come in and take over somebody’s home. I mean, it’s just outrageous,” Mr. Kemp told the outlet. “It really points to, as we’ve seen around the country, the lawlessness that’s gone on under the Biden administration.”

There are laws on the books in all 50 states dubbed “squatter’s rights” that allow anyone illegally occupying another person’s property to claim ownership if they’re not evicted after a certain amount of time.

Known as “adverse possession laws,” they only allow for the removal of squatters claiming ownership through an eviction lawsuit, which can drag on for months or years.

Mr. Kemp said that the legislation in Georgia seeks to tackle the problem of illegal squatting in order “to stiffen the penalties, to go after these folks, to also speed up the eviction process” and to allow homeowners to go after squatters for damages.

Exploiting Loopholes

Some experts have told The Epoch Times that criminal gangs take advantage of these laws to occupy properties and turn them into drug dens.

Others have warned that it’s possible that illegal immigrants, who’ve been pouring across the border in uprecedented numbers, will start taking advantage of the same loophole.

“We opened up our borders, and I believe it was irresponsible to do that without the resources in place to take care of all those people we have on the streets today,” Flash Shelton, who started a squatter-removal company called Squatter Hunters, told The Epoch Times in an earlier interview.

“It’s only a matter of time before they figure out they can break into someone’s house while on vacation and claim squatter’s rights,“ he continued. ”Squatting is a viral thing right now in the United States and something not considered with the masses of people coming in undocumented without going through a legal system.”

David Yukelson, the executive director and CEO of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, told The Epoch Times that in California police departments are understaffed and can’t handle complaints about squatters.

“The police department is depleted in Los Angeles and a hundred officers short. They don’t have the time to deal with this stuff. They’re shown a fake lease, and they won’t get involved beyond that because it’s a civil matter,” Mr. Yukelson said.

He exampled a case in Ventura County where Colombian drug gangs illegally occupied residential properties.

“They would stay as long as they could with fake identities and doing drug sales out of the apartment until they’d get kicked out,” he said.

With such stories making headlines across the country, a number of states have passed laws to get tougher on squatters, including Florida and New York.
On a federal level, a bill dubbed SHIELD (Safeguarding Homes from Illegal Entry, Living and Dwelling) was recently introduced in Congress that would, among other things, make it a deportable offense for foreign nationals to squat in Americans’ homes.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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