/ Modified apr 11, 2024 6:03 p.m.

AZ bill targets squatters: Owners could call police for immediate removal

The bill is headed up to the governor's desk for final approval.

door housing More than one-third of households in Tucson are considered housing cost burdened.

Arizona property owners may soon be able to call law enforcement to remove occupants unlawfully residing in their homes without waiting for court action.

“This puts the power back in the people's hands,” State Senator Wendy Rodgers (R-Flagstaff) said. “This gives law enforcement the expedience to be able to remove these people, right then and there.”

Right now, Arizona law requires property owners to go through the courts to remove someone who is unlawfully occupying a residential unit. Rodgers, who introduced the bill, says the measure tackles three issues: safety, expediency, and property rights.

“We're doing everything we can to help law enforcement do its job with confidence and with backing of the legislature, but also to give property owners those rights to get it done expediently.”

A person who fails or refuses to surrender possession of the property would be charged with a third-degree felony for criminal trespassing. The bill is headed up to Governor Katie Hobbs desk for a signature.

However, critics of the bill, like State Representative Analise Ortiz (D-Maricopa County), say it could be used against survivors of domestic violence. 

“Law enforcement has reached out to us and told us that they are against SB 1129,” Ortiz said. “This bill will have really harmful ramifications. We need to think about the decisions we are making in this chamber and how they will impact people day to day.”

Ortiz believes the bill does not adequately protect lawful tenants, saying the proposed legislation does not require proof of ownership from the property owner nor does it propose remedies for tenants who may be ousted unlawfully.

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