Remember the case of Roland Hawkins, the Colorado Springs landlord who came home from vacation to discover squatters living in his rental property? The case made news because Colorado law required him to go through a full eviction process.
Unfortunately, it happens all the time.
For example, Gerry Clark found squatters living in her deceased daughter’s home last year. Clark had to file for a formal eviction and three months passed before the squatters were actually forced to leave. During their unauthorized stay in the house, they caused severe damage to Clark’s belongings and the home itself.
The Good News
The good news is that the new law shortens the process to reclaim a property.
Senate Bill 15 passed this year, which will aid homeowners in evicting squatters in Colorado. Property owners must still file a complaint with the county court, but SB 15 only gives squatters two days to appear in court to present their case instead of months.
Removing squatters by force will be necessary if the unlawful occupants fail to appear in court. The sheriff can then be given power to remove them from the property within the next 24 hours.
The Bad News
The bad news is that the law does not make squatting or damage caused by squatters a felony.
SB 15 is a step in the right direction, but this is a case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Avoiding squatters is still preferable to evicting squatters. Here are some tips to help you keep your residential and commercial properties free of unauthorized occupants:
- Keep all properties occupied to the best of your ability.
- Make sure your properties are routinely monitored to check for any suspicious activity.
- Always ensure that windows and doors are shut and locked when you leave a home or building.
- Installing fences and security cameras can be deterrents for squatters looking for a place to crash.
Of course, the best deterrent is a professional property manager. Blue Mountain Real Estate and Property Management carefully monitors your commercial or residential properties and keeps unauthorized occupants from entering before they cause problems.