Neilson bill would help crack down on trespassers

HARRISBURG, Feb. 15 – Legislation introduced this week by state Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila., would help police across the commonwealth remove illegal trespassers from residential properties.

House Bill 546 would help address situations where people illegally move into a home or an apartment but claim to live there legally when police arrive. Law enforcement would have the authority to remove someone from a home if they have probable cause to believe the person is trespassing.

Under the bill, the accused would be granted adequate opportunity to prove they live there legally before police can remove them.

“There are cases when it’s one person’s word against another’s, so police often hesitate to remove the trespasser because the property owner could be attempting to evict rightful tenants illegally,” Neilson said. “There are certain situations when an owner may have to take legal eviction action, which could be expensive and time-consuming. My legislation would help eliminate that potential step for the property owner.”  

The bill would not affect landlord-tenant disputes, and a property owner making a false statement could be held criminally and civilly liable.