May 29, 2024 10:14 am
Close this search box.

National News

Georgia to strengthen property owners’ rights against squatters

Credit: iStock

By Shanteya Hudson, Producer

Friday, April 5, 2024 

Georgia lawmakers appear to be taking a major step toward safeguarding property owners against people who occupy homes or apartments illegally, with what’s known as the Squatters Reform Act.

House Bill 1017 passed unanimously in both the Georgia House and Senate. It would make illegally occupying personal property a criminal matter, rather than a civil case. This means the rightful owners can get people out of their homes sooner who don’t belong there.

The move is expected to bring relief to such residents as Dan Rodgers, who said he once felt squatters had more legal protection than property owners.

“I think the new three-day process is going to benefit a lot of homeowners,” Rodgers said. “It seemed like previous squatters’ rights were giving them the opportunity to hide behind process.”

Under the Squatters Reform Act, people would have to provide valid documentation of their right to occupy the property within three business days or face arrest for criminal trespass. Those who present documents would have their case reviewed within seven days to establish its legitimacy.

Georgia law has required homeowners to file an “Affidavit of Intruder” in the court system to remove squatters from their property, which can take weeks or months. Rodgers, who owns property in Muscogee County, said he hopes the new legislation will serve as a deterrent to those who previously sought to take advantage.

“I don’t think that there’s very many circumstances we could think of with a normal trespasser having as many protected rights as squatters do, and ending up being able to really affect people’s livelihood,” he said. “So, I really feel like it’s a really good incentive for people to do the right thing.”

The bill was sent to Gov. Brian Kemp this week and is pending his signature to become law.

This story is republished from Public News Service (PNS) under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.

Georgia Supreme Court justices appear skeptical of Athens DA’s claim of open records exemption

In an upcoming ruling, Georgia’s Supreme Court will weigh in on a claim brought by Athens-Clarke District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez, arguing that top prosecutors are exempt from the state’s open records laws. The case involves assertions that the trial court overlooked a constitutional provision in denying Gonzalez’s motion to dismiss an open records complaint, mirroring similar immunity arguments made by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in a separate case related to the 2020 presidential election interference.

CNN sets first Biden-Trump presidential debate for June 27 in Atlanta

CNN announced today that it will host a debate between President Joe Biden and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at the network’s Atlanta studios on June 27, with no audience present. Both candidates have agreed to participate, marking a pivotal moment in the lead-up to the November election as they engage in direct exchanges over key issues.

Georgia public colleges to expand admissions testing requirements for fall 2026

Georgia colleges are reverting to requiring standardized test scores for all new applicants, signaling a shift from pandemic-era policies. Beginning in fall 2026, institutions including Augusta University, The University of Georgia, and Georgia Tech will mandate SAT or ACT scores, a decision unanimously approved by the Georgia Board of Regents.