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  • Writer's pictureMichael Torrissi Jr.

Perspective/ Torrissi in Trenton

courtesy photo

Like everyone else, I’ve been horrified watching the news around the country of the growing problem of squatters moving into peoples’ homes and claiming them as their own.

There might not be anything scarier than losing your sense of security in your own home.

Couple that with now you can’t count on the law to get your own property back, and this crisis becomes the stuff of nightmares.

Don’t be fooled—our soft-on-crime laws have allowed for this situation to happen. Nothing else is to blame. In most blue states, squatting isn’t a criminal offense—it’s a civil offense.

That makes it so homeowners get caught up in long and expensive court battles to get their property back.

It’s time for the nightmare to end. I introduced a bill to make squatting a criminal offense in New Jersey, so you can call the police and get your home back. No one should have to worry about where themselves, their kids or their pets are going to live while a criminal takes over your house.

In America, squatters shouldn’t get rights. Squatters’ rights shouldn’t ever be a term that’s uttered. People should be able to call the police and have them arrested.

There is no middle ground on this issue. There is everyone who wants to live a good life and follow the law, and then there are extremists. For politicians who believe in squatters’ rights, you are the most extreme of the extreme, and you should look yourself in the mirror and ask how you would feel if you came home from vacation with your spouse and children to find that you no longer have a home?

This is such an easy issue to get under control. All we need is the legislators in Trenton to move my bill. The bill would criminalize unlawful occupancy of a dwelling, also known as “squatting.” Currently, to lawfully evict a squatter, the owner of the property must apply to the court for a writ of possession.

This bill would create three criminal offenses: housebreaking, unlawful occupancy, and unlawful reentry. They would be crimes of the fourth degree. To avoid being arrested for these offenses, the squatter would have to provide a rental agreement or contract.

A crime of the fourth degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

It’s time we end this nonsense. Criminals don’t belong in your house. They belong in jail. My bill would put them there. Let’s tell Trenton together that we want to see A731 up for a vote, now.

Michael Torrissi Jr.


8th District



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