DENVER – A bill to strengthen last year’s legislation on squatters has died in the Senate Committee.
Unlike Senate Bill 15, Senate Bill 47 didn’t gain the traction and support it needed to move forward.
Sen. Dennis Hisey (R-Fountain) and Rep. Bri Buentello (D-Pueblo) proposed expediting the eviction process for squatters who take over vacant land without permission.
Key differences between Senate Bill 15 and Senate Bill 47
Senate Bill 15 went into effect July 1, 2018. Under the bill, judges are required to hear squatter cases within 24 hours. The bill applies to people who move into homes and buildings and refuse to leave.
If a judge rules against the squatters, a Writ of Restitution is granted and sheriff’s deputies can legally remove them 1-day after receiving the court order to execute an eviction.
In 2017, News 5 Investigates called attention to a sluggish court process which categorized squatter cases as landlord/tenant eviction matters. This meant that squatter cases were treated no different than a property owner or landlord having a dispute with a tenant who perhaps fell behind on rent.
Prior to the passage of Senate Bill 15, homeowners were having to wait weeks or even months for the court system to hear their case and obtain legal rights back to their homes.
The bill also clarifies that trespassing charges could apply for squatters who fail to leave and also warns them that vandalism/criminal mischief charges could be filed if they destroy someone’s property.
The same expedited eviction process would have applied to squatters who take over vacant land, but lawmakers killed the bill this month.
Sen. Hisey’s bill appears to want to protect owners of farming property or land in rural parts of the State, but it wasn’t enough to convince lawmakers to approve the bill in its current format.
Hisey produced two examples for introducing Senate Bill 47:
In the first case, Hisey said that someone had parked a camper on a plot of vacant land in Penrose. In a separate case, Hisey said landowners went to their vacation property in Park County and found that campers had pitched a tent on their property.
In both cases, the campers left without further incident.
“I asked the opposition for suggestions on amendments and we couldn’t get there at this time but I still believe it is a good bill that needs to move forward,” Hisey said in an email to News 5. “I am planning to work on it and bring it back at some point.”
You can read and watch all of our previous squatting stories on KOAA.com under the News 5 Investigates section.