Zeiger bill would address squatter issue

Rep. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup, has introduced a bill that would help property owners and law enforcement officers keep squatters off private property.

“After we were contacted by neighbors in the Summit-Waller area, I realized that we needed to improve our state’s laws pertaining to squatters,” said Zeiger. “No one has a right to reside on someone else’s private property without paying. Unfortunately, it can be very, very difficult to have squatters leave. Property owners shouldn’t have to go through a series of high-priced legal hoops to have a squatter removed from their property. Our bill will make it easier for property owners and law enforcement to deal with squatters. This just seems like common sense to me.”

Bob and Rose Nelson had squatters in their south Tacoma rental home for more than a month.

“It isn’t right that someone who is not a tenant can walk into your home, lock you out and take possession of it, and you have no rights to your home until you go to court and prove you do,” said Rose Nelson. “The legislation isn’t going to help us, but I hope it will help people in the future. No one should have to go through what we did ever again.”

Under House Bill 2897, a person would be guilty of criminal trespass in the first degree if the person resides or is a tenant at a rental property and is not listed as a tenant on the rental agreement or as a guest in an affidavit signed by the owner, and the person refuses to immediately upon demand surrender possession of the premises to the owner, or vacate the property.

The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. A Senate companion bill, Senate Bill 5894, sponsored by Sen. Tim Sheldon, passed the Senate Committee on Law and Justice in 2015 and is now in the Senate Rules Committee.

For more information about Rep. Zeiger, visit: www.representativehanszeiger.com.

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