Senate Approves Laughlin Legislation to Help Property Owners Deal With Squatters

HARRISBURG – The Senate today unanimously approved legislation, Senate Bill 1236, that would codify Pennsylvania case law to establish more certainty for homeowners, landlords and law enforcement who encounter squatters, announced bill sponsor Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-49).

“The escalating problem of squatters unlawfully occupying properties is more than a legal challenge – it strikes at the heart of justice and fairness for property owners across our great state,” said Laughlin. “This is a personal and emotional ordeal for countless families and individuals who find their homes and investments under siege. Under our current legal framework, too many property owners are exposed, struggling against a system that doesn’t fully shield their rights or protect their homes.”

Right now, property owners face an exhausting and often painful journey to reclaim their properties. The requirement to issue a “notice to quit” to individuals who have no legitimate claim on a property burdens property owners financially and exacts a heavy emotional toll.

“Imagine coming home, only to find strangers occupying the space where you’ve created cherished memories, and then being told that removing them will require a costly and prolonged legal battle,” Laughlin said. “It’s a situation that would fill anyone with frustration and despair.”

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 clearly defines what constitutes a “tenant” and simplifies the process of reclaiming property from squatters, offering a practical solution to a deeply distressing problem.

“Establishing a precise legal status for squatters empowers property owners, granting them the tools to safeguard their homes and investments quickly and effectively, without wading through needless red tape,” said Laughlin. “Senate Bill 1236 is about restoring a sense of security and justice for those who have invested their dreams, savings and emotions into their properties. It’s a balanced approach that respects the rights of all parties involved, ensuring legitimate tenants are protected while closing the door to those who exploit our system to occupy homes illegally.”

You can view Sen. Laughlin’s remarks during the Senate’s consideration of SB 1236 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

Back to Top