Recap of the Senate Committee Hearing on Securing Texas Against Squatters on May 15


The Senate Committee on Local Government, chaired by Senator Paul Bettencourt, held an extensive hearing on the issue of securing Texas against squatters on May 15. TAA was invited to testify and to review current laws related to squatters, propose improvements to the eviction process and strengthen property rights.

Howard Bookstaff, Crystal Moya, and Tracy Jaso testified on behalf of TAA, presenting detailed accounts of the challenges faced by property owners and managers. They were joined by experts from the Texas A&M Real Estate Center, justices of the peace and constables, homeowners, and other advocates, all of whom shared their insights and experiences.

The hearing, which lasted about four and a half hours, was exclusively dedicated to the topic of squatting. The panel of senators remained engaged throughout, expressing a strong desire to help improve the system. The testimony covered a broad range of issues including current criminal and civil laws under Texas law, increasing penalties, law enforcement challenges, judicial responses, and the need for balanced representation.

TAA’s testimony highlighted specific cases, such as multifamily properties in Dallas and San Antonio and a single-family home community in Fort Worth, showcasing the financial and safety impacts of squatting. The panelists reviewed the prolonged and costly eviction processes and the frequent lack of responsiveness of law enforcement in addressing unauthorized occupancy due to a variety of issues.

The committee showed a strong interest in finding practical solutions to these issues, indicating a commitment to legislative reform. Discussions focused on increasing penalties for squatters, improving law enforcement response, enhancing judicial oversight, and ensuring equal and fair representation of property owners’ rights.

After the committee adjourned, TAA staff briefly visited with Chairman Bettencourt, reiterating our commitment to helping improve the system.

TAA expresses gratitude to the committee for addressing this important issue, as well as to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick for his support. We look forward to continuing to work with the Legislature, the TAA Legislative Committee and other stakeholders to develop effective solutions.


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