Amendment Would Nullify Any Squatters’ Rights in NH

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State Rep. Terry Roy, R-Deerfield, chairman of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee


CONCORD — Unlike California, New York and many other states, New Hampshire would prohibit any squatters’ rights allowing someone to remain in a building they occupied without an agreement with the owner.

The proposed prohibition on squatters is proposed as an amendment to a bill forbidding cities and towns from becoming sanctuary communities blocking federal authorities from arresting or removing undocumented immigrants.

The amendment sponsored by House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Chairman Rep. Terry Roy, R-Deerfield, would not allow a person living in a residence without an agreement with the owner to have any tenants rights under statutes and have no other rights to possess the property.

The person could be charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass with no advanced warning. The class b misdemeanor penalty would be up to six months in a county jail and or up to a $1,000 fine.

The person would also be liable for any damages or costs in his or her removal from the property and any damage to the property while living in the building to be determined during a criminal proceeding resulting from the violation.

The proposal would also allow the owner or law enforcement acting at his or her request, to remove someone from the property without going through a legal process and using any reasonable necessary force to do so.

In any legal proceeding, the person would not be able to claim any rights as an occupier or possessor of the property.

Any property left behind would be considered to be the owner’s property and disposed of at his or her wishes. Any cost of disposal could be charged to the occupier determined during the trial.

Many states that grant “squatter’s rights” such as California or New York have had people move into unoccupied properties and owners have been unable to have them removed.

In Brentwood, California, Elizabeth Hirschhorn rented the accessory dwelling unit of Sascha Jovanovic’s home through Airbnb in September 2021 until March 2022, but only left after 570 days threatening to return.

Under California law, someone living in a building for 30 days or more and paid rent or fees at one time makes it more difficult for the property owner to remove them from the building without going through the state’s eviction process.

That process requires notification before a person can be evicted.

Just living in a house for 30 days without paying rent is considered trespassing in California.

A number of states have similar laws including NewYork which has a 30-day provision.

All states have some form of squatter’s rights but the states with the most squatters include Texas, Florida and Georgia, according to the National Rental Home Council.

In New Hampshire, a squatter can make a legal claim on a property if they have resided on the property for 20 continuous years.

The proposed amendment would appear to nullify that provision in state statutes.

A public hearing on the proposed amendment will be held Monday at 10 a.m. before the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in rooms 202-204 of the Legislative Office Building.

Garry Rayno may be reached at

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