Series of reported home heists, stubborn squatters in New York lead to new laws

New York lawmakers have voted to change a property law stating that "a tenant should not include a squatter."

This comes after a homeowner was put in handcuffs for changing the locks to keep a squatter from subletting her home. 

A portion of New York's 2024 state budget agreement, signed into law by New York Governor Kathy Hochul Monday, excludes squatters from tenant protection under state law. 

ABC 7 reports that a series of investigations into people squatting in homes that don't belong to them has caused New York State legislators to make changes to state law.

Real estate lawyer Michael Romer told Fox News that the squatter charged after taking over the $1M Queens home, pushed lawmakers "over the finish line." 

The anti-squatter legislation would essentially make it easier for police to intervene in cases like Adele Andaloro's. 


Squatter charged after allegedly taking over $1M Queens home

Initially the alleged squatter said that he was a 'legal tenant', forcing police to arrest the homeowner instead for changing the locks as he pushed his way inside.

According to the Queens District Attorney, back in February, Brian Rodriguez forced his way back into Andaloro's home after she changed the locks, allegedly pushing his way into the house as she tried to hold the door closed. 

When he claimed that he was a legal tenant and Andaloro was trying to legally evict him, police had no choice but to remove Andaloro from her home. 

The alleged squatter had signed a lease for $3,200 per month on the home and moved in subletters.

"I think this is what pushed it over the finish line, the investigation surrounding this case and the media surrounding this case. The optics of a homeowner being taken from their own home in handcuffs. That picture is what inspired Albany to act earlier today," Real estate lawyer Romer said.

Rodriguez, 35, pleaded not guilty to second-degree burglary, fourth-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, second-degree criminal trespass and fourth-degree criminal mischief last week, according to the Queens District Attorney's office. 

What is a squatter?

PropertyClub, a real estate consultant firm in New York, defines a squatter as "someone who moved into a property and lives there without the owner’s permission or knowledge."

It takes 30 days of occupancy for a squatter to be considered a legal tenant.  

The difference between squatting and trespassing is that a squatter has the intention of taking ownership or claiming the property as their own, according to the New York State Unified Court System.

New York Squatter laws

In New York, trespassing is ruled illegal, while squatting is often considered a civil matter that relies on the courts for eviction, according to FOX News.

This could mean the squatter moves his or her belongings into the property and settles down. In some instances, squatters will even pay taxes to back up their possession claim. 

Thus, rightful owner cannot legally lock them out, move their belongings or cut off the lights, according to state law.

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

Fox News contributed to this report.