By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
A St. Joseph state representative has pre-filed legislation to kick squatters out of abandoned property.
Rep. Shelia Solon says this isn’t just a problem in St. Joseph, but throughout the state. Solon says squatters breaking into abandoned houses is a growing problem.
“A young couple came up to the Capitol, talked to me, and they had purchased a historic home in St. Joe,” Solon tells host Barry Birr on the KFEQ Hotline. “They were so excited to fix it up and move in, to find that there had been squatters there that were destroying it and it took them months to get them removed. It’s a shame, because we have so many beautiful properties in our city and we don’t want to see them destroyed before the people who want to fix them up get a chance to get a hold of them.”
The legislative session begins at the Capitol in Jefferson City January 8th. Legislators can pre-file legislation this month. Solon’s bill, which would modify provisions of the trespass law, is House Bill 1413.
Solon says her bill would require squatters to leave a building if told by police they are trespassing. If they refuse, they could be arrested.
“Now you can’t say, I didn’t know,” Solon says. “I don’t know how you would not know if you didn’t own something. But, now the excuse of I thought the owner said I could or somebody told me or whatever is being said. Now, if the police warn you and say, you need to vacate, you have no business here, you get arrested.”
Solon says squatters are more than a nuisance.
“It depreciates property values and look at all the fires that we have in vacant properties,” according to Solon “And I’ve been trying to tell folks buildings don’t automatically combust. They’re being set fire to and there’s a cost to that of not just the risk of life and property, but also a financial cost to our citizens.”
Solon adds squatters don’t need our pity, but the services communities throughout the state offer.