|Posted:||February 28, 2019 11:43 AM|
|From:||Representative Martina A. White|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Police Removal of Trespassers|
|I recently reintroduced legislation to help the police remove illegal squatters from residential properties. The legislation will address situations where a person discovers that there are people illegally living in a house or an apartment that they own and they call the police to have them removed, only to be informed that there’s nothing the police can do to help them. If the trespasser claims to own the property or to be a lawful tenant, the police typically decline to get involved because they don’t know who to believe. Typically, in these situations, they advise the owner to pursue a legal eviction action, which can be a financial and legal nightmare. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon situation, especially in Philadelphia.
My bill, introduced last session by Representative John Taylor as HB 1931, states that if a police officer has probable cause to believe that a person is trespassing on residential property, the officer has the authority to remove the person from the premises. Police must allow a reasonable opportunity for the person to secure and present any proof they may have that they are on the property legally before removing them. Probable cause may be based on a signed affidavit from the property owner stating, among other things, that the person is not and was not in the past a tenant, and that the owner has demanded that the person vacate the premises. This bill does not affect and is not affected by landlord-tenant disputes. Further, any property owner making a false statement can be held criminally and civilly liable.
HB 1931 passed the House unanimously last session and was favorably reported from the Senate Judiciary Committee. I appreciate your support in finally seeing it enacted into law this session.