Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Borton introduces plan to protect property owners from squatters
RELEASE|April 5, 2024
Contact: Ken Borton

State Rep. Ken Borton is spearheading an effort to protect Michigan property owners from people illegally occupying private property. Under current law, police can remove people for trespassing onto private property. But when trespassers begin to illegally occupy private property and claim they have a legal reason to stay there, the process gets much more difficult for property owners.

“Michigan residents should not have to undergo lengthy legal battles to regain control of property they legally own and pay taxes on,” said Borton, R-Gaylord. “If someone enters a property illegally, they are a criminal. It shouldn’t matter whether someone trespasses for twenty minutes or three months. Trespassing is a crime, and it should be as simple as that.”

Borton’s plan, House Bill 5634, would give property owners a faster way to remove squatters illegally occupying private property. His legislation would allow property owners to file a complaint with their county sheriff and request the removal of the unlawful occupant.

To file a complaint, property owners must verify that they have told the illegal occupants to leave their property. Property owners also must acknowledge that the occupants are not current or former tenants and that any documentation produced by the squatters is fraudulent. Once the complaint is submitted and verified, the sheriff must immediately order all inhabitants to vacate the property. The sheriff may arrest the squatters for trespassing if they refuse to leave.

“More and more reports of squatters have been popping up across the country, and Michigan is not immune,” Borton said. “I refuse to sit by and wait until squatting becomes a larger issue here. We must give people the means to protect themselves and their property from illegal trespassers. We can’t wait until our offices are flooded with calls from people asking what they should do about the people who began illegally living in their homes during their vacation in Florida.”

In 2021, a Lansing man was forced to undergo a lengthy court battle to remove illegal occupants from his home. Two squatters took possession of his property after a handyman the owner hired told the trespassers they could stay there. The handyman had no legal authority to give them access.

The owner was forced to watch as the squatters piled trash on his lawn and racked up code violations. Before the squatters were removed, the owner was forced to issue the illegal occupiers with a 30-day eviction for a property they had no right to be in. Only a ruling by a judge ultimately ended the ordeal.

Two squatters in New York killed a woman after she found them occupying her recently deceased mother’s Manhattan apartment. The apartment was only vacant for three months before the woman traveled to New York to prepare it for a family friend. In 2018, experts reported that more than 4,000 squatters were occupying Detroit properties owned by the city’s Land Bank Authority.

“People shouldn’t have to deal with this alone,” Borton said. “If you discover someone illegally occupying your property, the police should be equipped to assist you. When we force residents to handle these issues, we put them into potentially dangerous situations with people who have already committed crimes. If someone is desperate enough to illegally live in a home they do not own, there should be no expectation they won’t do whatever it takes to stay there. Families returning from Disneyworld shouldn’t have to deal with unpredictable criminals; that’s a job for police.”


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