PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. - State Senator Mike Carrell is sponsoring Senate Bill 5280, which he said aims to curb criminal activity at rental properties. Specifically, he is concerned about squatters that take over homes. He said his constituents made him aware that is a serious problem in many neighborhoods.
Debbie Alder of Pierce County said it has created a bad situation on her block. A vacant home sits on the other side of her fence.
"People in the middle of the night going in there, yeah it is a concern," said Alder.
Sen. Carrell's answer to the problem is Senate Bill 5280.
"Under the bill, if the squatters have no legal standing to be there the police will be able to expeditiously remove them. Under current law police just say it is a civil matter," he said.
The bill has many critics. Earlier this week in Olympia, opponents told lawmakers the bill is too broad and could have unintended consequences.
"What this bill does is open a Pandoras Box of potential abuse because there are many renters in the state of Washington that are on a verbal month to month agreement that pay their landlords in cash," said Jonathan Grant of the Tenants Union
How do you legally separate people like that from squatters? That question plus many more about the language of the bill were brought up at a February 4 hearing.
Sen. Carrell heard the arguments, but stands by his bill because he said something needs to be done.
Learn more about SB5280: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5280
Watch the Feb. 4, 2013 hearing on SB5280: http://www.tvw.org/index.php?option=com_tvwliveplayer&eventID=2013021011