House Bills 5070-71 seek to better define when “squatting” is a crime in order to combat situations where people abuse the civil law system to remain illegally in the home while the legal process plays out.
The measure passed the house and now moves onto the senate for a vote, according to WXYZ.
“These bills look to address two areas of the law that currently contain loopholes that are abused by nefarious individuals looking to take advantage of the legal system at the expense of hard-working Michigan residents,” Heise said in a news release. “’Squatting’ is currently a vague and confusing area of the law, most often handled as a civil issue. This ties the hands of law enforcement, leaving them unable to act, while leaving the legal property owner with the courts as their only source of recourse, which can often take weeks or months to resolve.”
Because Michigan law handles trespass as a criminal activity in some instances, and as adverse possession as a civil matter in others, the gray area that exists due to the legal ambiguity is what “squatters” take advantage of. Heise’s legislation aims to remove the vague distinction between the two areas, making it a crime to squat in unoccupied single-family homes.
“When homes are left vacant during a foreclosure or sale process, squatters take advantage of these situations and then use the legal system against the rightful owners of these properties to their advantage,”Heise said. “Our residents deserve better than this, and these bills intend to give them stronger tools to combat this problem.”