New squatter bills proposed in New York to track and charge trespassers

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Thursday, June 6, 2024
New squatter bills proposed to track and charge trespassers
Dan Krauth has the story at City Hall on the proposed squatter bills.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A group of New York City councilmembers are throwing their support behind two new bills that would deal with "squatters" in the city and state. This is in addition to changes that have already been made recently to state property law.

The first, is a New York City bill that would require police, 911, 311 and other city agencies to track all squatter calls to know how often and where it's happening.

"They are not tenants, they're squatters, they should be separate from tenants," said Councilmember Susan Zhuang who wrote the bill.

More than a dozen councilmembers have co-sponsored the legislation.

This spring, state lawmakers voted to revise property law to define tenants to exclude squatters after a series of 7 On Your Side Investigations.

"This is a really great first step and I considerate a huge win," Senator Jessica Scarcella-Spanton said.

She filed a bill to expand on the changes that have already been made.

Her bill would allow prosecutors to charge squatters with criminal trespassing and give tenants rights after 60 days, instead of 30 days.

"We want to add this enhancement so that people know that not only do squatters not have rights but it also has criminal repercussions attached to it," Senator Scarcella-Spanton said.

On Thursday, Councilmember Zhuang also filed a resolution in support of Senator Scarcella-Spanton's bill.

City councilmembers weighed in on the new legislation during a press conference on the steps of City Hall Thursday afternoon.

"It's unacceptable that homeowners have to spend thousands of dollars going into court to protect which is rightfully theirs, which is their own home, their own property," Councilmember Julie Menin said.

Not everyone's in favor of the proposed bills. Some housing advocates worry the new laws could chip away at the rights of every day tenants.

Bill supporters say the rights of tenants can be protected while also protecting small property owners.


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