The Rule Book: There Are Some New Squatters Laws on the Books in Michigan

Sarah Cox


[The house above was the subject of a crazy squatter saga. Read about it here.]

Michigan recently passed three new statutes specifically addressing squatting and trespassing. They will take effect on September 24, 2014. Here is what it means:

1. HB 5069/PA 223 amends the revised judicature act to allow a landlord to use force (but not including assault) and self-help when recovering possession of premises from a person who came into possession by trespass (squatting).
Translation: Previously, an eviction action had to be filed to remove all occupants even if they did not have a valid lease. Now, for occupants who are there illegally or as a result of trespassing the landlord can use "self-help" to remove the sqautters. (This does not apply to residents that had a lease that has expired). This allows the landlord to change the locks and remove stuff belonging to the residents. Physically removing a person is not allowed as that is technically assault. However, combined with the other new laws that make squatting a crime, you could have a squatter arrested by the police.

2. HB 5070/PA 224 makes squatting in a single family house or a duplex a misdemeanor for the first offense, with a $5,000 maximum fine and 180 day maximum sentence; and a felony for second and subsequent offenses, with a $10,000 maximum fine and a 2 year maximum sentence.
Translation: This is a new law. Squatting was not a crime before, other than trespassing, and in fact, Michigan also has a law allowing adverse possession, otherwise known as "squatters rights." Previously the real owner had to file charges for trespassing.

3. HB 5071/PA 225 identifies the felony for second and subsequent squatting offenses as a class G felony with a 2 year maximum sentence.
Translation:A legal expert at the city explains that that this law is tougher, but not to expect many more convictions. "For the most part most squatters are doing it because they need to. However, I think it will make it much easier for property owners to take over foreclosures and auction properties if they don't have to proceed through the whole eviction process for every new property they acquire."
What say you, voters? Have you dealt with squatters in the past. Do you think these new laws will help you out?
· Woman Who Lived With Squatter Vents About Detroit in Listing [Curbed Detroit]
· Do These Detroit Squatters Piss You Off? [Curbed Detroit]