Squatters Reform Act gives property owners more rights in Georgia

The Squatters Reform Act aims to give property owners more rights to evict those who have illegally taken possession of a home.

SOUTH FULTON, Ga. — Property owners in Georgia who are dealing with squatters are finally getting help after reform was passed in the state legislature. 

The Squatters Reform Act aims to give property owners more rights to evict those who have illegally taken possession of a home. For years, many have said squatters have had more rights than those who actually own the property. One community shared its struggle to deal with squatters with 11Alive and said this reform couldn’t come soon enough.

“This one of our problem houses right here, with the drug dealing and shooting inside the house gun shots broken out glass,” Hampton Oaks Homeowners Association President Mel Keyton said. 

Keyton said squatters had plagued his community, and at one point, 18 homes had been taken over illegally.  

“What’s happening is the people get companies to buy the property for them, and when they can’t afford it, they move out, so then the squatters move in,” Keyton said. 

He also said the squatters have not been neighborly.  

“We actually had situations where we had armed robberies,” he said, “we got a couple of prostitution rings going on, and we had a situation where we had drug dealing going on.”

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Because of laws protecting squatters, Keyton said their HOA and the property owners have had difficulty evicting them, but the new act has changed that. 

“It puts some parameters to protect property owners,” said Georgia Representative Misha Mainor. “Right now, if there were a victim process, it could take months to get someone out of your home that you own; now, it will take three days.” 

In addition, Mainor said squatters will now be held financially liable to speed up the eviction process.  

“They also must pay rent for all of the time that they were in the property and for any damages,” she said. 

Mainor adds that squatters who make up fake rental agreements could be charged with a misdemeanor and jailed for up to a year. News that Hampton Oaks residents, whose homes value $450,000 to $600,000, said couldn’t come soon enough.

“This was a beautiful neighborhood, and it feels terrible to know something like this could happen, and someone could actually commit burglary and legally have the rights to help them stay in the house,” Keyton said. 

The bill isn’t a done deal just yet; it still has to be signed by the governor.

This article was originally published by a www.11alive.com . Read the Original article here. .