When you think of squatters, what may come to mind is violent, lawless people who are trespassing on someone else’s property.
But these people can have legal rights to stay on and even own such property without paying for it.
This post will tell you all you need to know about Squatters’ Rights in New York.
Who is a Squatter?
A squatter is someone who occupies an abandoned or unoccupied space without the owner’s permission.
Simply put, squatters are people who live in homes they do not own. They do this by not paying rent and living there without the owner’s permission.
Doesn‘t that sound an awful lot like trespassing?
Trespassing is the act of entering another person’s property without permission. It is a civil wrong and, in some places, a criminal offense.
Trespassing is different from squatting because of the motivations for doing it. Squatters will often enter abandoned lands or property to live there, while trespassers are typically looking to make a quick stop before heading elsewhere.
In many cases, caught trespassers will be asked to leave the property and, if they refuse to comply, could be charged with a crime. Squatting, on the other hand, is typically not considered a crime.
The intent is to assert ownership, while the intent of trespassers might be to make a quick stop without infringing on anyone else’s rights.
But it‘s my property, why can‘t I kick them out?
Now, you are probably wondering why you need to be reading this article when you can just kick out unwanted visitors.
Well, you technically cannot. Because of squatters’ rights, getting people off your property is a lot more complicated.
What are Squatter‘s Rights?
Squatters’ rights is a legal term that refers to the right of a squatter to live in a property without being evicted.
Squatters have no legal rights to any property they occupy. However, if they have been residing on the property long enough, they may acquire some rights to it.
In New York, after 30 days, a squatter can legally remain on the property till the owner goes through the legal eviction process.
How do Squatter‘s Rights work?
A squatter is someone who moves into a property and refuses to leave, even though they do not have the right to do so.
Squatters’ rights are the rights that allow them to stay on the property as long as they want.
These rights vary from country to country, but squatters can stay on the property for up to 6 months without paying rent or any other charges.
Squatters have these rights because of a law called adverse possession. This law allows people who use a piece of property without permission (for the required period) to gain ownership of that property if nobody else has claimed it first.
How to Claim Squatters‘ Rights in NYC
For a squatter to claim ownership of a property, they must meet certain requirements. The squatter’s occupation must be:
Open and Notorious
This means that the squatter’s occupation of the property must be obvious as if they are the owners of the property.
This is necessary because if the squatter hides the use of the property, the actual owner cannot exercise his right to evict the squatter.
Within the Legal Period
Every state has a time limit for the adverse possessor to use the land before it becomes theirs.
In New York, the property must be used for at least ten years before the adverse possessor can obtain the title.
A squatter cannot claim adverse possession if the owner of the property gave consent to use it.
The squatter’s intentions for the property and claim must conflict with the owner’s claim.
This requirement is met if the squatter is the only one occupying the property in question. A squatter cannot claim adverse possession of the property if he shares it with other squatters, tenants, or a landlord.
The squatter must occupy the property continuously for the legal period required of the state (10 years in New York). Any break in occupancy renders the adverse possession claim invalid.
The squatter must be present and have full control of the property.
Color of Title
Color of title is a document that shows a claim to real property without providing real proof of ownership.
A squatter claiming adverse possession in New York must have a color of title for the 10 years of occupancy.
Why Do Squatters Have Rights?
At this point, you might be wondering why anyone should ever be able to claim a property that you paid for, maybe developed and cared for; without paying. Why do these rights even exist?
Squatters have rights for 2 main reasons.
To prevent property owners from dealing with squatters by their own rules.
Things can get messy and out of control when owners are trying to get stubborn squatters off their property.
Many owners have turned to violence or the threat of it, to get their message and displeasure across.
The squatter’s rights make it so that squatters are removed by the right authorities, with legal means or by judicial eviction.
To get people off the streets. It’s a pretty noble cause if you can ignore the fact that it happens at the owner’s expense.
Benefits of Squatters‘ Rights
Squatters’ rights might be a pain in the neck for the property owner, but what about the squatters?
Some benefits of squatters’ rights in New York include:
- It’s a way for squatters to get off the streets and into a home.
- It provides families with an opportunity to live in more affordable housing.
- There are no taxes on the property while it is vacant.
- The city will not demolish the building, so it will be preserved.
- The squatter can have some control over their living conditions.
- The law protects squatters from being harassed by police officers.
- With this law, squatters can have a place to live without having to pay rent.
- Squatters have more control over what happens inside their home because they can make their own rules about who can enter and when.
- Squatters’rights discourage gentrification and contribute to affordable housing in New York City.
However, there are many risks associated with Squatter’s rights. The process is long and difficult, which could result in the person being evicted before they get their rights granted.
It can also be difficult to find out whether or not a squatter had been evicted before they got their rights.
How to get rid of Squatters
The first step is to contact the police. Remember there’s a thin line between trespassers and squatters? It’s best to leave it up to the authorities to determine that line.
If you’re dealing with a trespasser, it becomes a criminal case and the authorities can handle it from there. If It’s a squatter, your troubles are just beginning.
Next, provide the squatter with a written notice that you want them to leave. This notice should state that they have occupied your property without your consent and you are asking them to vacate the premises.
It must state that the squatter has been given a reasonable time to vacate, but if they fail to do so and are still on the property after the deadline, then you will file an unlawful detainer lawsuit against them.
With a bit of luck, the squatter might pack up his things and go peacefully.
If the squatter does not leave, the next step is to file an ‘unlawful detainer lawsuit’ (eviction lawsuit) against them in court. If you win the case, the squatter has to leave. You can even involve the police again to help them leave faster.
Tips To Avoid Violating Squatters‘ Rights
If you find someone living on your property without permission, you might be tempted to take matters into your own hands (After all, it is your property).
Well, that may not be the best idea. You can get sued or even arrested if you go about it wrongly. So here are tips to avoid violating squatters’ rights.
- Do not change the locks on the property. This can cause a lot of problems and will likely get you into more legal trouble. It is always better to let the squatter stay for now and see if they are willing to leave without being violent about it.
- Do not try to physically remove the squatter from the property, as this could lead to more violence and injury.
- Do not turn off the utilities if they aren’t already shut off, especially water and electricity.
- Don’t lie about what will happen if the squatter does not leave. You mustn’t lie because giving false information may make the situation worse and there is a risk that they will retaliate against you.
- Do not break the property or personal belongings of the squatter unless they force you to do so. This can lead to a lawsuit.
- Don’t make a scene so that it will not anger the squatter and make their stay on your property more difficult.
- Don’t threaten to use force. Threatening to use force when you are trying to evict someone can lead them to act out and make the situation much more difficult. You should always try to talk to the squatter and see if they are willing to leave peacefully.
- Don’t make promises that you can’t keep. If the squatter asks for money, don’t promise to pay them if they leave peacefully but instead say that if they do leave peacefully, then you will consider making a payment.
Tips for preventing Squatters
- Make sure you have a clear title to your property. You’ll need this if you ever have to deal with the police or go to court.
- Put up No Trespassing signs on your property and make sure it is visible from all angles. You should also have a ‘No Trespassing’sticker on your doorbell, mailbox, and windows that show that you do not want any visitors at the moment.
- Set up security measures. If you have a gate or fence, you should install locks so that they cannot be opened from the outside. You can also install security cameras to monitor any suspicious activity happening around your house or property.
- Keep an eye on the area around your property for any sign of squatters, such as abandoned buildings and cars or people living in the area.
- Don’t keep food and water on your property. If you need to lock someone out of your property, make sure not to provide them with any food and water. If you do, it will only encourage them to stay on the property longer.
- Get to know your neighbors and be a part of the community, this will help keep squatters away from you as they are less likely to want to live near someone who knows them personally and can report them to authorities if they see them trespassing on private property.
- Hire a security guard or install security cameras outside of your home or office to deter potential squatters from setting up camp near you by making it known that people are watching them closely and it is not safe. to trespass.
- Contact the police or local law enforcement agency if you see someone trespassing on your property to have them removed from your property and file a report with them for trespassing, this will help build a database of people who are known trespassers in the area that law enforcement can keep an eye out for when they patrol the area.
- Consider using the services of a property management company that can help you evict squatters or keep them away from your property by providing security patrols, keeping your building clean, and grounds trimmed, and keeping your property safe from vandalism.
There you go! That’s all you need to know about Squatters’ Right in New York. Please seek out a property manager or an attorney for more expert advice.