Senator Cunningham on the Senate floorSPRINGFIELD—Local communities will soon have new protections to stop squatters from legally taking possession of abandoned homes or businesses thanks to a measure signed into law this week.

The new law, sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham, was introduced when a squatter attempted to take control of an abandoned building in Beverly by utilizing a loophole in an obscure housing law.

"An individual moved into an abandoned storefront on a commercial street and attempted to claim ownership of the property under a law designed to improve dilapidated housing," Cunningham said. "If alert neighbors hadn't called the police, the scheme might have succeeded in civil court."

Introduced by Cunningham as Senate Bill 1562, the new law requires that local government zoning boards be alerted by the court if any group or individual attempts to claim ownership of property under the Abandoned Housing Rehabilitation Act.

"Local government officials and zoning boards have a much better idea of what's going on with residential and commercial properties than a judge in a downtown courtroom," Cunningham said. "The new law will allow those local officials to intercede in court almost immediately if someone is improperly attempting to take ownership of an abandoned house or place of business."

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Springfield Office:
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