Home>Crime>Anti-Squatting Bill Heads to Governor’s Desk
State Senator Wendy Rogers speaking on the floor of the Arizona State Senate at the Arizona State Capitol building in Phoenix, Arizona.
State Senator Wendy Rogers speaking on the floor of the Arizona State Senate at the Arizona State Capitol building in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Anti-Squatting Bill Heads to Governor’s Desk

Rogers’ senate bill passes with a solid majority, awaiting Hobbs response

By Steve Kirwan, April 12, 2024 1:23 pm

AZ State Senator Wendy Rogers (R-LD7) sponsored Senate Bill 1129, amending Arizona Revised Statutes Title 12 to allow “forcible entry and detainer actions” specifically related to “squatters” unlawfully occupying a residence. The bill adds section 12-1173.02, entitled “Limited alternative remedy for removal of unlawful occupant,” which would allow a property owner or authorized agent to request law enforcement to remove the unlawful occupant immediately. The addendum specifies a series of qualifiers protecting legal occupants from aggressive landlords or others attempting to abuse the ruling.

Rogers crafted the bill in response to growing concerns over the explosion of squatters nationwide, especially in light of the recent social media posts by illegal immigrants on how to take advantage of the legal loopholes that allow squatting.

Sen. Justine Wadsack (R-LD17), who is also a real estate agent, addressed her colleagues, expressing support for the bill. She stated, “When you turn the corner, and you’re thinking you’re going to show your buyer the third bedroom and you come face to face with someone who is essentially taking possession of someone else’s property, essentially, is terrifying.” She added that calls to the police don’t help because, under current rules, there’s little they can do.

However, when during the full legislative session, there was some opposition. Rep. Analise Ortiz (D-24) expressed concerns over an apparent lack of protection for lawful tenants. She pointed to a lack of requirements requiring proof of ownership or the legal right to represent an owner. She also pointed to the lack of a process for an occupant to defend against the removal. She also addressed a lack of protection for those living in abusive relationships.

“That is where the concern comes in about survivors of intimate partner violence who might be living with an abuser, and this SB 1129 could be weaponized against them,” she stated. “It’s riddled with inconsistencies and unclear mandates of law enforcement.”

House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci (R-30) added provisions to the Senate-approved bill to address some of those concerns. One such addition requires a property owner to sign an affidavit, under penalty of perjury, affirming they are the owner or authorized agent and that the occupant refused a directive to leave. He also included language denying eviction if the occupant is the property owner’s immediate family member. The same applies to an occupant with a “prior verbal or written agreement to cohabitate with the property owner in the residential dwelling.”

Ultimately, the bill was passed, with opposition solely from Democrats. What remains unclear is whether Governor Hobbs will sign the bill. She has proven contrarian with her veto record, denying passage of several recent bills that Republicans felt confident she would sign. Given her unmatched veto record, it’s a crap shoot whether she will sign or veto the bill.

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