Politics & Government

NC Senate bill targets squatters using foreclosed homes

8417 Kelly Woods Lane in Charlotte's Piper Glen neighborhood off Rea Road, where squatters took up residence after a foreclosure.
8417 Kelly Woods Lane in Charlotte's Piper Glen neighborhood off Rea Road, where squatters took up residence after a foreclosure. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

A state Senate bill filed Tuesday would toughen penalties for people who take up residence in foreclosed homes and file fake legal documents to stay there.

Sen. Stan Bingham, a Davidson County Republican, said he’s proposing Senate Bill 754 in response to news reports about “sovereign citizens” who move in illegally and refuse to leave.

“Nuts, I call them,” Bingham said. “They’ll use the legal system to benefit themselves and move in properties.”

The Charlotte Observer wrote about such an incident last year. A group of people affiliated with a Moorish Nation group that doesn’t recognize state, federal or local laws moved into an $800,000 foreclosed home in the Piper Glen neighborhood.

The woman claiming ownership was evicted and arrested, but she kept coming back and filing nuisance legal claims against local police and the homeowner’s association.

“It’s a big problem in Mecklenburg County, I don’t know why,” Bingham said. “They’re going in these homes, eating nice food, running the refrigerator, running up the power bill.”

Bingham’s bill would make it a felony for someone to file false liens on property or occupy property they’d previously been evicted from. The penalty would include a fine of at least $1,000.

“This will give (authorities) a little leeway and prevent this thing from happening,” he said.

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