Laughlin Legislation to Help Property Owners Deal With Squatters Advances

HARRISBURG – The Senate Judiciary Committee today reported to the full Senate legislation, Senate Bill 1236, aimed at codifying Pennsylvania case law to establish more certainty for landlords, law enforcement and homeowners who encounter squatters, announced bill sponsor Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-49).

“The growing and pressing issue of squatters unlawfully taking over residential homes is a problem that is becoming increasingly prevalent in our communities,” said Laughlin. “Homeowners, who have invested their hard-earned money and emotions into their properties, often find themselves entangled in a lengthy, complicated and costly process to remove these unauthorized occupants. This situation not only causes financial strain but also significant emotional distress.”

For example, in New York, any occupant who has been in possession of a premises for thirty consecutive days or longer is granted tenancy rights. This means that even if a person or persons did not obtain possession legally from the owner, they would be considered tenants. Pursuing formal eviction procedures would be necessary to remove these squatters from the premises.

Under Pennsylvania law, such squatters would be considered trespassers once the landowner warns them they are not welcome and instructs them to vacate the property. Should the squatters remain in any place where they are not licensed or privileged to be, they commit the offense of defiant trespass.

Given the inconsistencies and lack of clarity in how different states address squatter concerns, Pennsylvania must establish clear and uniform guidelines for our state. SB 1236 would clarify the legal status of squatters in Pennsylvania and streamline the process of removing them from residential properties.

“By codifying existing Pennsylvania case law, Senate Bill 1236 aims to provide more certainty and clarity for homeowners, landlords and law enforcement officials when dealing with trespassers,” Laughlin said. “This legislation is not just about removing trespassers; it is about restoring peace of mind to our citizens and ensuring their property rights are respected and upheld.”

You can view Sen. Laughlin’s remarks during the Judiciary Committee meeting here.

For more state-related news and information, constituents can visit Laughlin’s website at or follow him on Facebook and Twitter @senatorlaughlin.


Contact:           David Kozak   717-787-8927

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