Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Prestin backs plan to protect property owners from squatters
RELEASE|April 24, 2024
Contact: David Prestin

State Rep. Dave Prestin on Wednesday pledged his support for legislation that would 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 can get much more difficult for property owners.

“The Upper Peninsula isn’t facing the same squatting crisis you’re seeing elsewhere in Michigan and across the country right now. However, we are typically several years behind the rest of the state when it comes to new problems, so it’s important we solve this issue before it gets across the bridge,” said Prestin, R-Cedar River.  “Our vibrant sense of community in the U.P. enables law enforcement and prosecutors to fully do their jobs. South of the bridge, law enforcement is challenged with the reality that population density allows criminals to maintain a higher level of anonymity. It’s critically important to solve this issue so it doesn’t become a larger problem for us in the years to come.”

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

“Breaking and entering is a crime, and criminals should be dealt with the same if they’re trying to steal things from inside a home or if they’re trying to steal the home outright,” Prestin said. “If a property owner finds criminals illegally occupying their home, they deserve access to law enforcement with the authorization to swiftly return that property to its rightful owner.”

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 hired handyman errantly gave the trespassers access. The months-long ordeal ended after several court hearings and a judge finally ordering the squatters to leave the property.

“This plan is about common sense and fixing a system that favors criminals over law-abiding homeowners,” Prestin said. “Squatters convince themselves all property ownership takes is some extended trespassing. I’m proud to support a plan that allows law enforcement to address this criminal behavior and return power to our property owners.”

HB 5634 was referred to the House Economic Development and Small Business committee.


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