Bill filed to prevent squatters from having rights in New York

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Thursday, March 21, 2024
Bill filed to prevent squatters from having rights
Dan Krauth has more on the bill to help property owners against squatters.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Eyewitness News has reported on the growing squatter problem and now some lawmakers are taking action.

New York has a history of passing some of the toughest laws in the country that are meant to protect honest tenants from greedy landlords. But some lawmakers say the laws have gone too far. They also allow dishonest tenants to take advantage of free housing for years.

A State Assemblyman from Long Island filed a bill that would make it easier for a home owner to remove a squatter from the property.

This comes after Eyewitness News exclusively reported on a homeowner in Queens who was arrested for changing the locks on men she says are squatting in her home. We also reported weeks prior on another family in Douglaston who has been unable to move into a $2 million home they purchased due to a man who refuses to leave.

In New York, if you call the police on someone who moved into your home without permission, if they claim to be a tenant, they can't be arrested for trespassing. Instead, the owner has to take them to court to evict them. The average eviction in the city takes about two years to complete.

"It's an unfortunate, upside down world," said NY State Assemblyman Jake Blumencranz, a republican representing District 15. "They know how to work the law to stay for a certain number of days to work the system."

ALSO READ | Squatter standoff captured on camera in Queens: 7 On Your Side Investigates

Dan Krauth has more in this 7 On Your Side Investigates squatting story.

In New York, squatters have rights after 30 days. That means the property owner can't change the locks on them, can't remove their belongings, and can't cut off the utilities. If they do, the owner could be arrested. Instead, property owners must go through the court system to get rid of them.

"People can stay in homes for years, years, without having justice brought to them for essentially staying for free and making homeowners pay the bill," Blumencranz said..

His newly filed bill is pretty simple. It states a tenant does not include squatters. It also gives someone rights after 45 days, not 30 as many short term rentals in NYC are required to be 30 days long.

"We're making sure squatters can't take advantage of the law, that's all we're doing," Blumencranz said.

The bill would allow police to intervene and make arrests instead of having to go through the lengthy court process.

Lawmakers recently passed a similar bill in Florida. That bill is now on the governor's desk for approval.

ALSO READ | Man accused of squatting in Queens home faces judge, promises 'revelation' in case

7 On Your Side Investigative reporter Dan Krauth has the story.

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