NJ Senator Testa Wants Stricter Laws to Stop Squatters

testa squatting laws new jersey
NJ Senator, Michael Testa

Senators Michael Testa and Doug Steinhardt want the New Jersey Legislature to support criminalization of unlawful occupancy of a dwelling, also known as “squatting.”

Under current law, squatting is not a criminal act. It is a civil matter that requires the property owner to file a claim to evict, which often takes years to resolve.

“There are individuals boasting about how undocumented immigrants can ‘invade’ homes using loopholes in our laws,” said Testa.  

Holding criminals accountable for terrorizing homeowners and neighborhoods across New Jersey.

S-725 would create three criminal offenses:

  • Housebreaking: When a person who forcibly enters an uninhabited or vacant dwelling knowing or having reason to believe that such entry is without permission of the owner of the dwelling, with the intent to take up residence.
  • Unlawful Occupancy: When a person who takes up residence in an uninhabited or vacant dwelling and knows or has reason to believe that such residency is without permission of the owner of the dwelling. 
  • Unlawful reentry: A person commits unlawful reentry if an owner of real property has recovered possession of the property from the person pursuant to a court order and, without the authority of the court or permission of the owner, the person reenters the property.

“It can be extremely difficult, time-consuming, and expensive for a homeowner to get their property back when it’s occupied by squatters”

New legislation would provide law enforcement with better tools to remove squatters quickly and prevent long-term damage to homes and communities they often cause.”

A second bill is now being drafted that would expedite proceedings against squatters and make the squatter liable to the property owner for damages, legal fees, and costs.

Under this bill, a property owner can file for a 72 hour plenary eviction proceeding in the superior court and avoid landlord tenant court if they can certify via verified complaint that they are the owner or lawful manager of the property, the squatter was never a tenant (and therefore not entitled to protections of the fair tenant eviction act), never had a written lease, never paid rent, and never had written permission from the property owner or manager to be in or on the property.


2 thoughts on “NJ Senator Testa Wants Stricter Laws to Stop Squatters”

  1. Senator Testa continues to offer clear common sense solutions to a real problems. That’s what real leadership looks like. Bravo Senator Testa for looking for real solutions.

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