Lawmakers voted Wednesday to move forward with Senate Bill 18-015.
The bill is meant to protect Colorado homeowners and their families from squatters.
News 5 Investigates has uncovered multiple cases of squatters taking over homes and refusing to leave. Current law considers “squatting” a civil matter which has to go through the eviction court process.
Unfortunately, this process can take weeks or even months to complete as squatting cases are treated the same as landlord-tenant eviction issues.
Initially, lawmakers proposed a plan to allow police to immediately remove squatters from homes without having to wait for a court-ordered eviction. Facing opposition from the Colorado District Attorney’s Council, Criminal Defense Bar and Disability Law Colorado, Sen. Owen Hill, Sen. Bob Gardner, Rep. Larry Liston and Rep. Dave Williams agreed to “fine tune” the bill.
Rep. Mike Weissman, who is part of the House State, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, helped revise the language in SB 15 to address concerns over removing “due process” from alleged squatters who may want to argue their case in court.
Under the revisions, the matter would still be “civil” in nature, but would require a judge to hear squatter eviction cases within 2 days. Once a judgment order is granted through a Writ of Restitution, the sheriff’s office can evict squatters the next day.
If authorities find evidence the squatters purposely damaged the property, they could face vandalism or criminal mischief charges.
SB 15 will now have a third and final reading in the House. You can track the bill’s progress here.