Bill Would Give Homeowners More Authority Against Squatters

( — Lawmakers in Arizona are close to approving legislation that would make it easier for homeowners to get squatters removed from their homes, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

The bill, SB 1129, was introduced by Flagstaff Republican Senator Wendy Rogers and passed the Senate in a bipartisan vote of 18-8.

Under the current law, police have no authority to remove trespassing occupants, forcing property owners to go through the courts, an expensive process that takes too long and allows squatters to remain on the premises.

The legislation from Senator Rogers mirrors the recent bill signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Homeowners submit an affidavit to local law enforcement asserting that the occupants do not pay rent and have no lease or ownership of the property. Police can then order the squatters to leave and arrest them on trespassing charges if they refuse.

However, SB 1129 has no provision for occupants who are wrongfully removed.

The state House passed SB 1129 after making some changes and adding provisions to protect lawful occupants.

Democrat State Rep. Analise Ortiz demanded protections for victims of domestic violence, saying the bill could allow domestic abusers to force their partners out of a property they share.

Ortiz also called for provisions to protect lawful tenants and to ensure that those who go to the police provide documents proving ownership or the authority to act on behalf of an owner.

Ortiz wanted the bill to include language that allows an occupant of the property to provide information that counters the affidavit submitted by the property owner.

House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci okayed some additional provisions to the Senate version, including ensuring that the affidavit signed by homeowners includes a penalty for perjury.

The House version also included a provision to ensure that the bill would not be used to evict an immediate family member of the property owner.

The state Senate will have to review and approve the version passed by the House before the legislation can make it to Governor Katie Hobbs.

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