Group of squatters, pit bulls removed from Long Island home

Police removed a group of suspected squatters and nearly half a dozen pit bulls from a New Hyde Park home on Long Island. 

The group allegedly broke into the home in Sept. of last year, paid a bill, and settled in. Neighbors say the dogs were there as an intimidation tactic. 

(Police recovered 5 pit bulls from the home. )

"They broke in, they changed the locks, they took possession of the property," the homeowner's attorney explains.

"We're in the process of evicting them." 

He says their hands have been tied since last year. 

Police say the group had 5 pit bulls inside the home. 

New York lawmakers have been working to amend a property law that considers squatters to be tenants. 

James Kousouros, a criminal defense attorney, tells FOX 5 that there's been a resurgence of squatters finding legal loopholes. 

"What we've seen over the past two years is the resurgence of squatters who somehow are using the legal system in order to remain in places that they don't belong in, and so this law is designed to put an end to that."


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

In one case a woman's Queens home was taken over by a man and a group of subletting squatters. Police arrested the homeowner when she tried to change the locks in order to keep them out.

David Lau, a realtor in the New Hyde Park area, said instances of squatting are starting to happen a lot.   He says it's to the point that people started asking him not to put "for sale" signs on their lawn. 

"They're afraid that a sign might indicate that it's empty. And once somebody sees that it's empty, they just break in, they put in a utility bill in and they could be trying to get them out for months," Lau explained. 

Squatter law

A portion of New York's 2025 state budget agreement, signed into law by New York Governor Kathy Hochul, excludes squatters from tenant protection under state law. 

The anti-squatter legislation would essentially make it easier for police to intervene in cases where owners are pushed out of their own homes. 

In April, an alleged squatter had signed a lease for $3,200 per month on a homeowner's property and moved in subletters.

The homeowner was put in handcuffs for changing the locks in attempts to stop the squatter from subletting her home. 


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.

The new law not only defines the squatter but also strips them of establishing rights by making it clear that a tenant shall not include a squatter.

Legal experts say even though the new laws make it easier to get squatters out, there are still ways for them to get access of a home. 


"A tenant shall include an occupant of one or more rooms in a rooming house or aresident, not including a transient occupant, of one or more rooms in a hotel who has been in possession for thirty consecutive days or longer. A tenant shall not include a squatter."

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.