Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Borton votes to protect property owners from deed fraud
RELEASE|June 13, 2024
Contact: Ken Borton

State Rep. Ken Borton on Thursday voted to criminalize the process of falsely claiming ownership of someone else’s property. The plan, which creates a new ten-year felony, passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support.

House Bills 5598 and 5599 update state law to reflect that those with intent to deceive and record a document with false information are guilty of deed fraud. The plan also allows a Register of Deeds who believes a fraudulent document has been submitted to provide evidence to a county prosecutor.

“Criminals continue to find new and innovative ways to defraud our communities,” said Borton, R-Gaylord. “Instead of applying skills and talents toward real jobs, people are now falsifying deeds in desperate attempts to steal property. Oftentimes, these cases wind up costing true property owners thousands in court fees as they have to prove they really do own the home they worked so hard for.”

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has recently reported that criminals are preparing legitimate-looking documents and forging the rightful owner’s signature to transfer the title to themselves. They then work with an unsuspecting or cooperative mortgage lender and borrow against the property, all without the knowledge or consent of the rightful owner, who is often elderly, moved to a nursing home, or recently died.

Borton is also leading an effort to protect Michigan property owners from people illegally occupying private property. Under current law, police can remove people for trespassing onto private property. But when trespassers begin to illegally occupy private property and claim they have a legal reason to stay there, the process gets much more difficult for property owners.

House Bill 5634 would give property owners a faster way to remove squatters illegally occupying private property. His legislation would allow property owners to file a complaint with their county sheriff and request the removal of the unlawful occupant.

“Whether someone is making up a title or moving into a family’s house when they’re on vacation, we need to give homeowners more tools and protections to ensure desperate criminals cannot claim someone else’s property as their own,” Borton said. “I’m proud to support this bipartisan effort to criminalize deed fraud. I hope my plan to give property owners more protections against squatters will soon receive the same consideration.”

HB 5634 is awaiting a hearing in the House Economic Development and Small Business committee.


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