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

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Thursday, March 21, 2024
Squatter standoff captured on camera in Queens
Dan Krauth has the latest on the squatter standoff in Queens.

FLUSHING, Queens (WABC) -- Eyewitness News captured what a growing number of property owners and police are dealing with on a daily basis - a squatter standoff.

"It's not fair that I, as the homeowner, have to be going through this," Adele Andaloro said.

Andaloro inherited her family's home in Flushing, Queens after her parents passed away. She was in the process of selling it when she noticed a problem. Someone changed the entire front door and lock of her home.

NEW | Bill filed to prevent squatters from having rights in New York

"I'm really fearful that these people are going to get away with stealing my home," she said.

She says squatters moved into her home in February and refused to leave.

"By the time someone does their investigation, their work, and their job, it will be over 30 days and this man will still be in my home," she said.

In New York, squatters have rights after 30 days.

When Andaloro recently went to her property, Eyewitness News was there when a woman walked up to the house, unlocked the door, and left. Andaloro decided to enter the property with her daughter and her property deed in hand.

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

"This is proving everything I said, this is my furniture, these are my curtains," Andaloro said as she entered the main room of her home.

She didn't just find her belongings inside the home. She found two people.

"Who are you sir, get out of my house," she said to one of them sleeping in a bedroom.

Eyewitness News asked one of the men how long he'd been there. He responded by saying, "I moved in two days ago."

The second man refused to answer questions.

The men who Andaloro says are squatting inside her home called the police on her.

"They've called the police on me and I've called the locksmith," she said. "We didn't come in illegally, the door was open."

Police arrived shortly after and started interviewing the men, the neighbors, and asking for documents.

One officer asked the men, "Do you have something that shows you've been here more than 30 days?"

When the men didn't provide documentation, they escorted both off the property and Andaloro had a locksmith change the locks. Before police left, they warned her about changing the locks.

"I may end up in handcuffs today if a man shows up here and says I have illegally evicted him," said Andaloro. "I said 'let him take me to court as I've been told to take him to court' because today I'm not leaving my house."

In New York, it's against the law to turn off the utilities, change the locks, and remove the belongings of someone who claims to be a tenant.

Less than 10 minutes after police left and the locks were changed, the man who claimed to be the one actually leasing the house showed up with another man police already escorted off the property. They pushed through the front door.

"Do you see this this guy just literally broke down my door, broke through myself and my daughter," Andaloro said.

Police showed up a second time and told Andaloro "he can't be kicked out, you have to go to court." They consider it to be a landlord-tenant issue and by law, it has to be handled through housing court and not with police.

Because Andaloro changed the locks, they arrested her for unlawful eviction.

When Eyewitness News asked Brian Rodriguez, the man who claims to have a lease, for documentation he provided none. Instead, he showed bills for work he claimed he had done to the house. He said he moved into the home a few months ago and signed documents with a realtor but wouldn't say who that realtor is.

"You got to go to court and send me to court," said Rodriguez. He said he'll leave "if she pays me my money that I put in the house," said Rodriguez. "Pay me the money and I'll leave or send me to court it's that simple."

It's not that simple. Going through the housing court process takes time.

It takes an average of 20 months for an eviction case to have a resolution in New York City, according to the Rent Stabilization Association.

Andaloro says she now has no choice but to start an eviction filing in landlord-tenant court.

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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