As some states grapple with increased squatters, PA looks at strengthening homeowner protections

02 April 2024- Rep. Donna Scheuren (R-Montgomery) today proposed legislation, named the Homeowner Protection and Squatter Eviction Act, which would strengthen property owners’ rights and homeowner protections against squatters. Squatting is the unlawful practice of occupying or possessing a residence or other real property without the lawful owner’s consent.

The Homeowner Protection and Squatter Eviction Act would:

  • Allow municipal and state law enforcement officers to immediately remove a squatter from the property if the homeowner signs an affidavit stating that he or she is the lawful owner of the residence. The signee would be subject to criminal penalties for unsworn falsification if found to not be the property owner.
  • Increase the penalty for any squatter who causes $1,000 or more in property damage while unlawfully occupying a residence to a felony of the first degree.
  • Allow home and landowners to seek treble damages and attorneys’ fees via a civil action against the squatter.
  • Require law enforcement to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if the squatter is an illegal immigrant and to comply with any ICE detainer lodged against the illegal immigrant.

“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,” said Scheuren. “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. This legislation does just that, protecting the rights of lawful property owners, instead of the criminals who are breaking the law.”

Rep. Scheuren is currently looking for co-sponsors for this proposal.