A bill designed to close a loophole in state law to expedite squatter cases through the court system is headed to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk.
Senate Bill 15 officially passed Tuesday. Once it is signed into law, it would allow homeowners seek a court-ordered injunction that would grant a hearing the next day after it is filed. If the court finds that the person was unlawfully on the property, it would allow law enforcement to evict the individual.
This provision changes the current process, which News 5 has reported on for months. Under the current system, homeowners are referred to eviction court to remove squatters from their house. That process can take weeks, sometimes months before the eviction happens.
In every case we’ve reviewed, homeowners find themselves responsible for repairing damage while the squatters simply walk away without any consequences.
Initially, sponsors of Senate Bill 15 wanted to give police immediate power to remove squatters without waiting for a court-ordered eviction. However, the Colorado District Attorney’s Council, Criminal Defense Bar, and Disability Law Colorado argued this would have unintended consequences.
Representatives from all three agencies expressed concerns that enacting the bill without any amendments would eliminate “due process” and the right for “squatters” to present their case in court.
Disability Law Colorado testified in March that Senate Bill 15 could impact people with disabilities who may be taken advantage of by unscrupulous landlords who would use the bill to illegally evict actual tenants they don’t like as a result of their disability.
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs) and Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs), Rep. Larry Liston (R-Colorado Springs) and Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs).