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Georgia Enforces New Squatter Laws to Close Loopholes in Policy

Georgia Enforces New Squatter Laws to Close Loopholes in Policy

Georgia Enforces New Squatter Laws to Close Loopholes in Policy

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Through legal lapses, squatters across Georgia have successfully been enabled to preserve their squatter’s privileges, according to findings conducted by Channel 2 Action News.

The inquiries had the effect of changing Georgia legislation and closing the window of opportunity. Presenting a phony leasehold or being incapable to produce documentation of one will result in criminal proceedings.

Squatters Occupy 1,200 Residences in Georgia

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The trespassing problem has gotten so bad that it is becoming a catastrophe. Approximately 1,200 residences in Atlanta, Georgia are occupied by trespassers and the property owners are at a loss as to what to do.

To get out of their dwellings, several occupants are going to such an extent as to replace the locks themselves and demand payment from the owners.

A trespasser asked for $190,000

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A Georgian landowner called David Morris had previously given up free accommodation to anyone in requiring a place to reside before the COVID-19 pandemic.

But as the global epidemic struck, he determined the residents had to go, and he had to pay several hundred dollars for clearing up their mess. But one squatter demanded from Morris $190,000 to vacate the site, arguing he was suddenly entitled to squatters’ privileges.

Not only Atlanta

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Other jurisdictions in the United States are also experiencing problems with trespassers, not just Georgia. arguably California’s most pressing challenges at the moment are squatters, partly due to lax regulations and guidance on social media.

Florida and New York are two other states where intruders are a problem. Squatters’ rights and legislation pertaining to them vary from region jurisdiction to jurisdiction thus may prove challenging to enforce. Squatters possess greater advantages compared to owners are likely to like thanks to legal gaps in numerous jurisdictions.

ALSO READ: CA Sends Warning to Squatters

Advantageous Laws

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Squatters were given preference against owners under Georgia’s former squatter legislation. Until the recently passed legislation was implemented, one homeowner in Georgia struggled with this problem.

The property owner discovered some squatters occupying his house without permission. Upon informing the law enforcement of the problem, they advised him that not much would be done given that what they were carrying out remained lawful. He was informed that evicting these individuals might be necessary, a procedure which was going to take quite a while.

Gadgets were Reportedly being Sold

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Squatters were actually utilizing the electronics in these vacant residences as a means of income along with trespassing in properties they had no legal standing to reside within.

Moreover, some premises had excrement left behind. When these homes were for sale, this was especially problematic because the property owner or property representative occasionally staged the property with objects that the squatters would use as well as offer for sale, complicating the process of selling the residence.

The Latest Statutes

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Because Atlanta encounters a lot of trespassers the legislature has chosen to enact fresh regulations that restrict the liberties that squatters can enjoy.

Georgia has made squatting a felony, therefore rather than requiring a while to address this matter, it requires it to be handled before a magistrate’s court just only a few days after the incident.

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They must Present a Valid Tenancy

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The recent law requires intruders to produce a valid lease following three days of being discovered. False leases go beyond minor offenses to felonies.

Squatters were solely identified by householders per prior legislation. Squatters are being reported by homeowners’ associations (HOA) including nearby residents.

Benefits and Drawbacks of these Regulations

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There are benefits and downsides, similar to several regulations that are passed. Its ability to improve home accessibility and safety for the community represents a few of its benefits.

Nevertheless, not everybody is convinced. Claiming to be uncommon and inconsequential, squatting is not witnessed frequently enough to warrant meaningful legislative debate, says Eric Dunn. He is the legal director of the National Housing Law Project.

Squatting Regulations May Be Abused by Homeowners

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The possibility of homeowner exploitation of the revised squatting rules is a further concern. Saying that lawful residents are squatters, certain homeowners may attempt to remove these individuals from their properties.

It is worrying that the recently passed law could provide unscrupulous landlords—who previously had trouble with this—even more excuse to forcibly evict their legally lawful inhabitants from their houses by changing the door locks or turning off the power and water.

ALSO READ: Atlanta Residents Lament Properties Being Overrun by Squatters

Squatters Will Face Stricter Penalties

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In addition to rendering it simple for owners to remove intruders from their properties without having to navigate the legal system, the recently implemented regulations additionally make things tougher for squatters.

The illegal occupier faces incarceration otherwise a penalty that is about equal to the per-month rental cost of the house if the paperwork that they submit are fake or poorly produced.

Florida's Squatter Rules are Comparable

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There have also been problems with intruders in the territory of Florida. Consequently, in March 2024, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis approved an ordinance eliminating squatters’ privileges.

In the event that occupiers are unable to provide the necessary documentation to verify their residency, landowners may request that the authorities evict them out of their properties, a legal tactic shared with Georgia. Before long, we shall know if these regulations had the intended outcome.

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