Man 'squatting' in couple's $2M dream home in Queens

Dan Krauth Image
Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Man 'squatting' in couple's $2M dream home in Queens
Dan Krauth has more.

DOUGLASTON, Queens (WABC) -- Susana and Joseph Landa bought what they thought was their dream retirement home in Douglaston Queens. It's right next door to family members at the end of a quiet street in a neighborhood they've lived in their entire lives.

"We're looking to hopefully retire and most of all provide for my son Alex, who has Down Syndrome," said Susana Landa, homeowner.

But when they bought the dream home in October they discovered the house came with something they didn't bargain for - a squatter.

"It has become a nightmare, a total nightmare," said Josepha Landa, homeowner.

More than four months after purchasing the home, the family says they still can't move in and they've faced numerous roadblocks.

"I wake up and I go to sleep about the same thing, when is this guy going to come out?," Susana said.

"We couldn't believe it, we could not believe it," the mother of three said.

The man they're now taking to court is Brett Flores. Court documents show, Flores was hired by the former elderly homeowner as his caretaker until the man passed away in January of 2023. Flores was paid $3,000 a week to care for him. Records show, Flores claims he has a "license" to stay in the house from the previous owner.

In New York City, squatters have rights after living on the premise for 30 days.

"If you have no lease and you're not paying rent, what is you right?" Joseph said.

The Landa family claims not only has Flores been living in the home since the former owner died, they say he listed the home online to rent rooms to other people.

They're taking Flores to landlord-tenant court to try and get him evicted.

"Long story short, he is still there," Susana said.

They've already had five hearings in civil court but claim the process keeps getting delayed. Flores has showed up for court without an attorney and most recently, he filed for bankruptcy.

"So that prevents everything from going forward," Joseph said.

Meanwhile, the Landas have been paying all of the bills, including thousands of dollars in utilities.

"It's very crazy, our system is broken," Susana said. "I never would imagine we have no rights, no rights at all, nothing, zero."

7 On Your Side Investigates tried to get Flores' side of the story. No one answered the door at the Queens home.

Flores did answer the phone. He said he has a story to tell but wanted 7 On Your Side to contact his attorney first. When reached by phone, the attorney said they had "no comment" and that they're going to let the issue play out in court. He also said he believes the issue will be resolved "soon."

"It makes me feel completely forgotten in this legal system, unfair and not able to do anything," Joseph said.

The next court date is scheduled for April.

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