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Legislature passes bill to combat the growing issue of squatters

On Thursday, the Alabama House concurred with Senate changes to legislation to help homeowners combat squatters.

House Bill 182 (HB182) was sponsored by State Representative Craig Lipscomb (R - Gadsden). 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 on imprisonment.

The legislation also increases the punishment for presenting a falsified document that purports to be a binding lease, deed or other instrument authorizing ownership or occupancy. That 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 bill has been sent to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) for her consideration.

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