Homeowner protections against squatters signed into law

Washington homeowners will be better protected against squatters after legislation sponsored by Sen. Hans Zeiger was today signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee. Zeiger’s bill removes current legal ambiguity by giving law enforcement clear authority to evict squatters and bar them from returning to a property they illegally occupied.

“Having a stranger trespass on your private property and refuse to leave has not only emotional consequences for homeowners, but significant economic impacts as well,” said Zeiger, R-Puyallup. “After learning of situations where law enforcement didn’t feel they could remove people who obviously shouldn’t be on private property, it was clear we needed to act. Private property owners can now know they have the full backing of state law and their local officials to evict illegal occupants.”

The measure follows high-profile examples of squatters taking over homes in Pierce County and statewide in recent years. In many cases law-enforcement officials did not feel they had adequate legal authority to remove squatters, forcing homeowners to pursue lengthy and costly evictions.

The legislation grants law enforcement clear authority to remove squatters from private property and order them to remain off the premises. It creates a “request to remove trespassers” form for property owners to establish that people on the property did not have permission to be on site and had refused to leave upon request.

The legislation goes into effect on July 21, 2017.