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House bill protecting Tennessee property owners from squatters

The House chamber recently passed legislation protecting Tennessee homeowners from squatters through an established and expedited removal process.

Squatting is the illegal practice of occupying a property without the owner’s lawful permission. Although squatters have no rights in Tennessee, when this happens a property owner must initiate a judicial eviction.

“Home ownership is the American dream for many, the foundation for building wealth and raising a family,” said bill sponsor State Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro. “This is proactive legislation that protects property owners but also deters bad actors who have learned to exploit the law and terrorize homeowners. This creates a streamlined process for Tennesseans to quickly take back control over what is rightfully theirs.”

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House Bill 1259 removes much of the burden from legitimate property owners by establishing a clear process for law enforcement to restore possession. It can expedite the removal of illegal occupants in as little as 72 hours. The legislation also clarifies that the sheriff may arrest the trespassers.

It currently can take up to two years to remove an illegal squatter and can cost a property owner thousands of dollars in legal fees, lost revenue, and property repairs.

The companion version of House Bill 1259 is still advancing through the Senate. If approved, the new law would take effect July 1.

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