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Squatters can be tricky and complicated to deal with in the state of New York. Dealing with them requires time and money. Additionally, even squatters have rights, so it’s essential that property owners have at least a basic understanding of those rights to ensure they’re not violated should the need arise to deal with a squatter.
NY Rent Own Sell has covered some of the basics here so that you can be mindful of how best to address squatters within the confines of state law.
If you are like most people, you probably think of a squatter as someone who moves onto a property and starts living there without the owner’s knowledge. While that’s partially true, there are various definitions for squatters.
Squatting can be both intentional and unintentional. Here are a few scenarios in which somebody can be defined as a squatter:
Squatting and trespassing are not the same things. The owner or landlord of the property may decide that squatting is not welcome, but the squatter is not necessarily breaking any laws by inhabiting land or property that’s not theirs. Trespassing, on the other hand, has legal implications.
Keep in mind that:
Squatters have legal rights. To be eligible for adverse possession, they must meet all adverse possession conditions. Otherwise, they may be arrested for trespassing. A homeless person may use squatters’ rights in the state of New York to acquire property. As squatters, they would not have to pay rent.
However, there are exceptions to this. Those exceptions include:
In the state of New York, a person may claim adverse possession if they’ve paid taxes and have lived openly on the property for at least ten years without the owner’s authorization.
But things get a bit different in New York City. In particular, the city has its own set of adverse property laws regarding apartments. When a squatter takes over an apartment in New York City, he has what is known as “squatter rights.”
In NYC, squatters are granted rights after only 30 days. Yes, you’re reading that right: only 30 days. Sometimes it is easier for property owners and smaller landlords to pay a squatter to leave the property instead of spending big bucks on legal fees to have them removed.
After a given period, squatters can become a property’s legal owners. A squatter in New York can claim adverse possession after occupying a property for ten years and not be charged criminally for doing so.
The United States has five specific legal conditions for squatters seeking adverse possession. They are:
The squatting must be evident. In order to meet this condition, even the property owner would have to have known that the person was living on the property without permission.
In this example, the word ‘hostile’ does not suggest the assertion should be harmful or violent. Hostile in this context suggests a simple occupation; an awareness of infringement; or a mistake of good faith.
Let’s look at these more closely:
With permanent possession, the squatter has to have remained on the land in question uninterrupted. In New York, that translates to ten years. It can’t be a situation in which they use the property for a few years and then leave.
The squatter must be the only one who claims ownership of the property. If you share the property with others, (i.e. squatters, tenants, or even the owner) your claim is invalid.
The squatter must reside on the property and treat the property as if they were the actual owners. One example of how this may show up is if the squatter has planted a garden or cleared the property of debris.
Under New York City law and state law, removing a squatter without judicial action is prohibited. That simply means you can’t lock a squatter out of an apartment that they’re not paying rent for. This is true even after you successfully evict the squatter.
In other words, property owners can’t physically remove squatters themselves; they must rely on the court and law enforcement to do it. Along those lines, landlords can’t deactivate utility services in an attempt to get the squatter to leave or make the squatter uncomfortable since they are deemed tenants after a certain time.
Squatters can be a unique issue to contend with as a landlord in New York. It can be challenging dealing with them properly. With that in mind, it’s a good idea for NYC landlords to become familiar with laws governing squatters and their rights.
Squatters are more than people who live in a property without the owner’s permission. Squatting can also happen accidentally. Possible scenarios in which a person can be deemed a squatter include:
Some people equate trespassing to squatting. This is not the case although both can be illegal. In the state of New York, anyone who lives on a property for 30 days or more becomes a legal tenant. Therefore, eviction becomes critical prior to the 30-day threshold.
What often happens is that squatters and trespassers can falsely claim a right to reside on a property. They forge documents to make it appear as if they are legal tenants of the property to buy some time until they can take full advantage of squatters rights in NYC.
Squatters in the State of New York have rights, albeit not the same rights as tenants who have acquired an apartment or home legally. New York’s squatters’ law allows homeless people and anyone else who attempts to establish residence on someone else’s property, limited rights that will help them avoid a trespassing charge. In addition, squatters help their case to remain on the property properly maintain it while they are living there. Squatters can also avoid a trespassing charge if they can prove that they inhabited the property due to an emergency.
It may seem like squatters are big winners here, but homeowners can still protect themselves against squatters. Here’s how:
New York State’s eviction process is fairly complicated and lengthy, so you’ll want to avoid it if at all possible. If you’re inexperienced in real estate and/or real estate law, work with an experienced real estate agent or property manager to evict the squatter.
You can send this notice to someone who’s lived on the property for less than 30 days. In the notice, you will need to notify the squatter that they have ten days to vacate the property along with the reason they must do so. If the squatter does not leave the property after ten days, you can file suit against them.
A 14-day notice is considered the standard notice period for evicting someone. In this notice, you inform the tenant that they must pay the full amount of rent due or quit the property in 14 days.
It usually works when a person is a former tenant and living in the property even after termination of the lease. In such a situation, you can charge them rent. After the notice expires, you can pursue the case for eviction in court.
You will send this notice when the squatter has been living on the property for more than 30 days and are now considered a legal tenant of the property. This notice notifies the squatter that they have 30 days to move out. If the tenant does not leave the property after 30 days, you can initiate the eviction process. If the squatter has been living on the property for a year or more, you will have to send them a 60-day notice.
Bear in mind that the squatter is likely to fight the case in court to stay on the property as long as possible. Landlords can prepare for these court proceedings by becoming familiar with the State of New York’s eviction laws.
Squatters are people who live on land or property that they do not own or formally lease. Anyone who neglects to keep an eye on their property runs the risk of getting a squatter, that is why it is essential to conduct proper oversight of your property.
Prevention is always the best strategy when it comes to dealing with squatters. If you encounter a squatter on your property, don’t try to evict them on your own. Instead, ask for assistance from a property manager or an attorney to avoid breaking any laws or violating the squatters’ rights.