Property-owner protections against squatting endorsed by Senate

Private-property owners frustrated by squatters are a major step closer to the relief and increased protection Sen. Hans Zeiger says they deserve. The Washington State Senate this evening approved Zeiger’s legislation that would give law enforcement clear authority to evict squatters and bar them from returning to the property they had illegally occupied.


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


“The issue of squatting has affected people from rural, urban and suburban communities alike,” said Zeiger, R-Puyallup, who sponsored a similar proposal in 2016 to begin addressing the issue. “This legislation would provide property owners and law enforcement with the right tools to address squatting and peace of mind for those affected.”


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


“Far too many Washingtonians have suffered through the emotional distress and financial damage that comes from having a stranger not only enter their private property, but lock them out and do tens of thousands of dollars in damage,” said Zeiger.


“Keeping our communities safe is critical; this bill would provide tools to remedy the situation with the full backing of state law.”


The measure, which passed unanimously, now heads to the House of Representatives for its consideration as the Legislature nears the halfway point of the 2017 legislative session.