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Governor Ivey Signs House Bill 182, Combatting Illegal Squatting

On Monday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) signed House Bill 182 (HB162), sponsored by Rep. Craig Lipscomb (R-Gadsden), to strengthen homeowners' rights against squatters who illegally occupy their property.

"It has been said that a person's home is their castle, yet after a national rise in illegal occupations of homeowner's private property, it is apparent that more must be done to halt criminals from commandeering people's homes," said Governor Ivey.

The new law creates stiff penalties for falsifying real estate documents and establishes a process, administered by local law enforcement, to quickly remove individuals who are illegally squatting a property owner's dwelling without authorization.

"In Alabama, private property rights are paramount," said Gov. Ivey. "This new law puts would-be squatters on notice that any attempt to hijack and take over someone's home will be met with swift action by law enforcement. The best dwelling for an illegal squatter is a jail cell, and we in state government should never rest easy until all Alabama homeowners' rights are fully protected."

The Legislation passed the Legislature after the Alabama House of Representatives concurred with Senate changes to the legislation.

While this has not really been a major problem in Alabama, nationally homeowners are finding that squatters illegally taking residence in homes and property has become a growing phenomenon.

"Large cities and metropolitan areas across the county have recently experienced an epidemic of squatters who seek to live rent free in properties they do not own and to which they have no legal rights or access," Lipscomb said. "This legislation provides Alabama property owners with a strong measure of protection that helps inoculate them from this epidemic and ensures they do not fall victim to this unfortunate national trend."

HBill182 increases the penalties for individuals who illegally enter a residence they do not own and creates a new transgression for entering a property and causing $1,000 or more in damage.

The crimes would be classified as a Class C felony, which is punishable in Alabama by one to ten years of imprisonment.

Producing a falsified document that purports to be a binding lease, deed or other instrument authorizing ownership or occupancy would be classified as a Class A misdemeanor punishable in Alabama by up to one year in jail and fines of up to $6,000.

The anti-squatting law will take effect June 1, 2024.

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