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Texas legislators want to help property owners deal with squatters. But the changes could affect tenants.

Housing advocates say Texas laws fall short when it comes to property trespassers but they warn changes could worsen the state’s evictions crisis.

Terri Boyette, a homeowner in Mesquite, poses for a photo after testifying on squatting before the Senate Committee on Local Government on Wednesday, May 15, 2024 in Austin. Boyerte fought for months to get a squatter out of her home but laws regarding squatters prevented her from doing much for months.

From left: State Sens. Angela Paxton, R- McKinney, Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, and Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, listen to testimony during the Texas Senate Committee on Local Government on laws relating to squatters on Wednesday, May 15, 2024 in Austin.

Who is a squatter?

What happens when there’s a dispute over the ownership or occupancy of a property?

When can an occupant claim ownership over a property? 

What happens after an eviction is filed? 

What changes do state lawmakers want to make?

How could changes impact Texas tenants?

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Economy Housing Paul Bettencourt