Local News

New law to streamline process of removing squatters from homes

SPOKANE, Wash. - A new law signed by Gov. Jay Inslee will streamline the process of removing unwanted guests invading Spokane homes.

For realtors, dealing with squatters is just part of the job.

"I've shown properties before and you go down in the basement and you know you've scared somebody away, because you hear something and then you see the sleeping bag," said Jennifer Valerian, president of the Spokane Association of Realtors.

"There are cases where they will go in, they'll bash the windows to get in, they'll take whatever they can, they'll stay there as long as they can," Valerian said.

The reality is that squatters do stay for a long time. It can be a nightmare for homeowners to get rid of them. In most cases, police need a formal eviction notice before they will remove or arrest a squatter, and that can take weeks in civil court and cost hundreds of dollars.

But a new law signed by Gov. Jay Inslee will streamline the process. Property owners will now be able to sign paperwork, stating that squatters have no legal right to be inside. The law will go into effect July 23.

Police say if you own a vacant home, make it look like someone lives there. They recommend mowing lawns, turning lights on, and posting "no trespassing" signs. Police and realtors agree that building strong connections with your neighbors is also important, so they will know if something unusual is happening on your property.