Calif. Code of Civil Procedure §§527.11 and 527.12 
Added by A.B. 1513
Effective date: January 1, 2015

To arrange timely removal of squatters, owners of unoccupied one-to-four unit residential properties in Palmdale, Lancaster and Ukiah may register their vacant properties with the local law enforcement within three days after the property becomes vacant. The registration is to include:

  • a statement signed under penalty of perjury that the property is vacant and not authorized to be occupied by any person;
  • the name, address and telephone number at which the owner may be reached; and
  • a statement and agreement evidencing local law enforcement or a private security company have been retained to inspect the property at least once every three days and notify law enforcement of any unauthorized person on the property.

Law enforcement notified about a person residing in the property will determine if the person is authorized to be on the premises. Unauthorized occupants are to be informed they may be removed by court order, and are subject to arrest for trespass if they violate the order.

A property owner may personally serve an action against an unauthorized occupant, or post a copy of the summons and complaint on the property, and mail a copy to the same address. The court may order a temporary restraining order within three days of serving the complaint and require the property to be vacated within 48 hours.

If the property is later sold or rented to a tenant, the owner is to:

  • issue to the tenant a written authorization to occupy the property; and
  • notify the local law enforcement to terminate the registration.

Owners of unoccupied one-to-four unit residential properties in Palmdale, Lancaster and Ukiah may also file a Declaration of Ownership with local law enforcement. The declaration includes an affirmation of their sole ownership of the unoccupied property and a statement that no person is authorized to occupy the property.

An owner who provides false information on declaration is liable to any person caused to vacate the property for attorney’s fees, special damages not to exceed $2,000 and other damages.

These processes sunset on January 1, 2018.

Editor’s note — Property owners are not required to take action in accordance with these provisions to remove a squatter from their property – these are merely additional methods available as part of a pilot program to simplify the process. Registering the property ensures local law enforcement are able to monitor the property and effectively remove any unauthorized occupant. Filing and posting a Declaration of Ownership further allows the property owner to affirm their sole ownership to streamline the court order process.

Though these provisions only apply to particular cities in California, they indicate the state’s willingness to take action against squatting if it is deemed a widespread problem for property owners. Similar amendments on a broader scale may reasonably result from these pilot provisions, with the potential to impact a larger number of property owners in the state.