Landlord, tenant advocates criticize crackdown on squatters

May 1—CONCORD — Activists representing tenants and landlords roundly criticized a proposal to make it simpler to take away folks illegally squatting on another person’s non-public property.

House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee Chairman Terry Roy, R-Deerfield, mentioned he’s decided to work on adjustments to his proposal to “get it right,” however he mentioned the issue of squatting in New Hampshire is actual and have to be addressed.

“This is something our constituents are asking for,” Roy mentioned through the second listening to in two weeks on the subject. “I ask that we take our time and do it right, but it is not something that can be put off because it is happening to people right now.”

This proposal can be added to a Senate-passed invoice (SB 315) on the reporting of bias crimes.

This newest proposal would enable a property proprietor to request somebody unlawfully occupying a unit to be eliminated by legislation enforcement after 48 hours and probably charged with felony trespass.

Under Roy’s modification, the individual accused of squatting may present proof that they’re entitled to be there.

If this request is not made, the owner must undergo the extra prolonged process to evict the squatter.

Officials with New Hampshire Legal Assistance, the Apartment Association of New Hampshire and Housing Action New Hampshire mentioned the most recent language was unworkable.

Elliott Berry, a retired lawyer who labored with tenants for greater than 40 years, mentioned police sometimes don’t become involved in evicting tenants for any motive.

“This makes the police the judge in the case rather than the judge,” Berry started. “The only way the alleged tenant gets to tell their side of the story to a neutral decisionmaker is in defending a criminal prosecution.”

Nick Norman, with the condominium group, mentioned even when the squatter has no rights to be on the property, eradicating her or him with out due course of would violate the U.S. Constitution.

“It is good we are addressing squatting; it happens for people who own their homes and it happens for people who are renting it out,” mentioned Norman, who has been a landlord for 35 years.

Norman and Berry supplied an extra modification for instances of suspected squatting to be dealt with underneath an present course of that addresses tenant-landlord disputes in a extra expedited trend than eviction.

This different route may full the due course of in two days, Norman mentioned.

Kerstin Cornell, a lawyer with New Hampshire Legal Assistance, mentioned the invoice additionally may innocently seize and criminally cost sublessors, like those that hire an condominium from a school pupil through the summer season even when the tenant has been barred from subleasing underneath his/her rental settlement.

“They don’t know they are there unlawfully and then are faced with this (criminal) trespassing” cost, Cornell mentioned.

After the listening to, Roy determined to place off additional committee work on the invoice till subsequent Wednesday.

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