States Move to Limit ‘Squatters’ Rights’

A wave of new legislation targets people who reside illegally in properties they don’t own.

1 minute read

May 30, 2024, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Colorful vacant, boarded-up two-story rowhouses in East Baltimore, Maryland.

Vacant rowhouses in East Baltimore, Maryland. | rbecklund / Adobe Stock

States including New York and Georgia are cracking down on squatters, reports Mary Salmonsen in Smart Cities Dive.

Until recently, people living in a unit illegally for over 30 days in New York State were considered tenants, forcing the owner into a judicial eviction process. “On April 22, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the 2025 state budget, which changed the state’s property law to say that squatters are not considered tenants on any timeframe, effective immediately.”

Other states with new anti-squatting legislation include Florida, where a new bill criminalizes squatting, and Alabama, where new legislation creates a process for removal. “United States Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa., also introduced a bill in the U.S. House on April 10 that, if passed, would define trespassing or squatting as grounds for deportation for any non-U.S. citizen.”

As Salmonsen explains, “The laws colloquially referred to as ‘squatters’ rights’ can also encompass adverse possession, in which a person who does not own a property may acquire title to it under certain circumstances.” According to M. Denzell Moton, attorney and owner of Moton Legal Group in Atlanta, the new laws are not expected to impact adverse possession clauses — which often deal with years or decades of residency — but will have a major impact on short-term squatters.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024 in Smart Cities Dive

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Pumping Gas

10 States Where the Gas Tax Is Highest

As the gap between gas tax revenue and transportation funding needs widen across the country, the funding mechanism is drawing increased scrutiny from both public officials and consumers.

June 9, 2024 - The Ascent

Concrete walkway with landscaping, decorative tiles, and picnic tables in a Los Angeles County park.

Wish Granted: Former Brownfield Transformed to New Park

Wishing Tree Park in West Carson, California officially opened last month, replacing a brownfield site with a much-needed green space for recreation and respite.

June 14 - Urbanize LA

"No right turn on red" and "Turning vehicles yield to pedestrians" sign.

The Tide is Turning on Right Turns on Red

The policy, which stems from the gas embargo of the 1970s, makes intersections more dangerous for pedestrians.

June 14 - NPR

Thick green forest on edge of lake in Louisville, Kentucky.

Louisville Begins Process to Clean Superfund Site

A public forest is home to dozens of barrels that have been leaking toxic materials for decades.

June 14 - Inside Climate News

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.