New proposed bill aims to protect homeowners from squatters, illegitimate leases

The legislation now heads to the Senate floor
Posted at 10:18 PM, Mar 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-07 00:18:23-05

A new bill proposed in the Idaho statehouse aims to protect homeowners from squatters.

The issue was brought to light in Spring of 2016 when a Nampa couple found themselves without rights to their own home after a complete stranger moved in without their knowledge.

The couple's attempts to quickly evict the woman were complicated in court, becaues the stranger claimed she found the house for rent online, and even insisted she paid a man rent and signed a lease.

"Because she produced that contract [the police] did not want to make a decision and they just concluded this was a civil matter and that it needed to be addressed in the courts," the couple's attorney Tiffany Hales testified to the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee.

It took Brian and Renea Prindle weeks of court dates, confrontations and pleas with police before the woman was removed from the home. The new law would change that, speeding up the process for homeowners in a situation involving an illegitimate lease.

The way current Idaho statutes are written, the only way to get an expedited eviction hearing is for non-payment of rent or illegal drug use on the property by a tenant.

"And so it doesn't provide for an expedited eviction if you have a squatter living in your property," Hales said.

The new law would add verbiage to existing code to speed up the process of removing someone from a property who has no legal right to be there.

"What this bill does, is it provides that if you have an individual who is squatting in your property, that you will get a hearing in front of a judge in 72 hours," Hales said.

The 72 hour time frame would not include weekends or holidays.

At the hearing, lawmakers noted most of the Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer laws in place have remained unamended since Idaho was a territory, and agreed changes should be made.

"It's great to see fellow senators recognize the need, that there's a problem," Senator Todd Lakey said. "We need to fix it to provide land owners the right to protect their property."

The Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee unanimously approved the new legislation. It now heads to the Senate floor for a vote.