Bipartisan Bill To Combat Squatting In Arizona Shot Down By Democratic Governor

A bill that would have assisted homeowners looking to evict squatters from their property was vetoed by Democratic Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs on Tuesday.

The bipartisan bill, SB 1129 comes amid a wave of squatting cases and would have allowed homeowners to request the help of law enforcement to remove a squatter from their property if the squatter invaded a home and unlawfully claimed a right to live in the home.

On an owner’s affidavit, police would have been authorized to immediately go to the property and have the squatter evicted.

Hobbs’ decision to veto the bill was made known in a letter to the president of the State Senate.

“Today I vetoed Senate Bill 1129. This bill fails to leverage existing legal mechanisms, respect the due process rights of lawful tenants, and minimize unintended consequences such as for victims of domestic violence,” Hobbs wrote in the letter.

The governor, however, did not say more about the reason behind her decision.

State Sen. Wendy Rogers (R-AZ), who crafted the bill, criticized Hobb’s veto, questioning whether she actually read the text of the bill.

“This bill has absolutely nothing to do with landlord-tenant law and has exemptions for family members and anyone with an agreement to cohabitate,” she said, adding that criminals are posing a threat to homeowners and infringing on their private property rights through a scheme to take over their homes.

According to the senator, the bill would have removed the heavy burden of having to prove that a squatter is unlawfully occupying a home from the homeowner and saves them from the stress of a lengthy legal battle.

“Although we have trespassing laws, it’s often difficult to prove a person is unlawfully occupying a home and can result in a lengthy legal battle,” she stated.

State Sen. Justine Wadsack (R-AZ), who also supported the bill, highlighted how real the squatting problem was, as he said that she had personally seen a squatter occupy a home while he was working as a realtor.

“It was a terrifying threat to my safety, the safety of my clients, as well as to the homeowners. When I called the police, I was told there was not much they could do. It’s a shame Gov. Katie Hobbs has vetoed yet another piece of commonsense bipartisan legislation,” he said.

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