A Colorado Springs representative is now optimistic that a bill, which would protect homeowners’ rights against squatters, will pass this session.
“I am encouraged,” said Rep. Larry Liston. “I would say that the chances of the bill making it out of committee are fairly good.”
Senate Bill 15 would permit law enforcement to remove unwanted guests who are unable to provide documentation, such as a signed lease agreement for the property, without an eviction process.
Four Republican state lawmakers, including Sen. Bob Gardner, Sen. Owen Hill, Rep. Dave Williams and Liston, all of Colorado Springs, sponsored the Protecting Homeowners and Deployed Military bill.
A Colorado House committee last discussed the bill during a March 21 hearing after it received unanimous Senate approval in late January.
“There was very good testimony at the hearing by numerous witnesses, saying how they are concerned about squatting situations that they had encountered,” Liston said. “For the time being, it’s being laid over, pending some amendments on the bill so that the Democrats can support it because they know it’s an issue of deep concern to Coloradans.”
Some of the Democrats concerns include the process of how the squatter will be served by police versus going through the court system as well as how long the unwanted occupant has to vacate the property, Liston said.
“We want to make sure that it is expedited as quickly as possible — the other side is not as concerned about that,” he said.
Still, Liston remains confident the two parties will be able to work together to pass the bill.
“I am honored to carry this bill, and we are working hard on it to get it through,” he said.
Squatters occupying properties is a serious problem for Colorado Springs homeowners, said Clarissa Arellano-Thomas, vice president of public policy and communications, Pikes Peak Association of Realtors.
“That’s why the bill is so important to us as an industry,” she said. “That’s why we care about this because squatting is actually a tremendous violation of private property rights.”
Realtors are the advocates of homeowners and their rights, Arellano-Thomas previously told the Business Journal.
“Homeowners just don’t gather and say we’re going to form an advocacy group and represent property and homeowners at city council, county commissioner or at the state level or even in D.C. — that’s what the Realtors do,” she said.
The bill will be discussed at a hearing April 5 in the House’s State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee. A time was not immediately available.
To track the bill’s status online, visit leg.colorado.gov.