Hapco Philadelphia has been advocating for years for more authority to remove squatters from rental properties.

And now a bill is being introduced in the Pennsylvania State House to do just that.

Read through the proposed bill summary below and MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD IN HARRISBURG!


From: Representative Donna Scheuren
To: All House members
Subject: Homeowner Protection & Squatter Eviction Act
In recent weeks, many of us have received anxious messages from our constituents regarding the unlawful and highly dishonest practice of “squatting,” which involves the occupation or possession of a residence or other real property without the lawful owner’s consent.  Squatting incidents have been occurring at an ever-increasing rate throughout this country and criminals are keenly taking advantage of lax laws to commandeer the property rights of lawful home and landowners.  Some recent squatting incidents include:

  • In March, a woman returned to New York following a trip to Spain to discover two squatters unlawfully occupying her residence.  These squatters proceeded to murder the homeowner by viciously slamming her head against the walls of her home.[1]
  • In March, as a result of New York’s squatter-friendly laws, squatters in Queens were successful in having a homeowner arrested for the apparently unlawful act of changing the locks to her own home.[2]
  • In January, a Philadelphia homeowner was compelled to pay $1,200 to oust several squatters from his home after police and city officials refused to arrest or remove the criminals.[3]
  • An illegal immigrant social media “influencer” went viral in recent weeks after posting a video on TikTok in which he brazenly encouraged other migrants to take advantage of lenient property laws by squatting in U.S. homes.[4]
  • In Jeannette, squatters turned a Pennsylvania home into a drug den and lit a fire on the floor to cook pasta.[5]

While any act of squatting will likely violate numerous provisions of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, including Section 3502 (Burglary) and Section 3503 (Criminal Trespass), law enforcement officers are often reluctant to take any action because of the difficulty associated with identifying which individual is the lawful owner.  Legislation is clearly needed to strengthen property rights and homeowner protections and increase criminal penalties for squatting.

If a homeowner discovers a squatter anywhere on his or her property, the legislation will allow municipal and state law enforcement officers to immediately remove the squatter from the property if the homeowner signs an affidavit, subject to criminal penalties for unsworn falsification to authorities, stating that he or she is, in fact, the lawful owner of the residence.  The legislation will also provide that any squatter who causes $1,000 or more in property damage, while unlawfully occupying a residence, is guilty of a felony of the first degree.  To ensure that owners are made whole, my legislation will authorize home and landowners to seek treble damages and attorneys’ fees via a civil action against the squatter.  Lastly, if the squatter is an illegal immigrant, the legislation will require law enforcement to promptly notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the individual’s undocumented immigration status and to comply with any ICE detainer lodged against the illegal immigrant.

Please join me in cosponsoring this important piece of legislation to better protect our Commonwealth.

Read recent news accounts of squatters taking advantage of loopholes in the current laws.

[1] https://www.cnn.com/2024/03/22/us/nyc-squatters-murder-arrests/index.html

[2] https://moneywise.com/a/ch-aol/queens-arrested-for-trying-to-keep-squatters-out-of-her-home_1711572065079?utm_source=syn_msna_mon&utm_medium=Z&utm_campaign=47583&utm_content=msna_mon_47583

[3] https://nypost.com/2024/01/08/news/philadelphia-homeowner-is-forced-to-pay-1200-to-get-squatters-out/

[4] https://nypost.com/2024/03/21/us-news/tiktokker-tells-illegal-immigrants-how-to-invade-american-homes/

[5] https://www.foxbusiness.com/real-estate/squatters-turn-pennsylvania-homes-drug-dens-set-indoor-campfire-cook-canned-ravioli