NYC homeowner arrested after changing locks on her house to deter squatters who broke in and started living there
03/22/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

A New York City homeowner has been arrested for changing the locks on her home after it was taken over by squatters.

47-year-old Adele Andalaro inherited the $1 million home in Flushing, Queens, after her parents passed away. After putting it on the market last month, she noticed that squatters had moved into the home and changed the home’s entire front door, including its locks.

In an attempt to deal with the problem, she went to the home with a local TV outlet with the deeds to her home and called a locksmith to change the home's locks. This resulted in an altercation with the squatters that was caught on camera and culminated with police leading Andaloro away in handcuffs and charging her with “unlawful eviction.”

Police told her that the matter was considered a “landlord-tenant issue” and must be dealt with in the housing court system. According to the Rent Stabilization Association, it takes an average of 20 months for New York City eviction cases to be resolved.

Andaloro told ABC7 New York: “It’s enraging. It really is. It’s not fair that I, as the homeowner, have to be going through this.”

A news crew who spoke to the squatters said one of them, Brian Rodriguez, claimed to have a lease but was unable to provide documentation proving it and would not supply the name of the realtor he allegedly worked with to rent the home.

Neighbors had reported concerning activity coming from the home since the squatters took over it, with one neighbor saying that everyone knew what was going on there and was unhappy about it. There were multiple complaints about noise coming from the house. Another neighbor said that the home had a "for sale" sign on it for a long time before someone “came out of nowhere” and started living there. Andaloro had lived in the home with her mother and daughter until her mother passed away.

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Squatters have rights after just 30 days in NYC

In New York state, squatters can claim the legal right to stay on a property without permission from the owner if they have been living there for at least 10 years. However, in New York City, individuals can claim “squatters rights” if they have been squatting at a property for only 30 days. This makes it illegal for the rightful owners of the home to turn off utilities, remove the squatters' belongings, or change the locks.

“By the time someone does their investigation, their work, and their job, it will be over 30 days, and this man will still be in my home,” she said.

“I’m really fearful that these people are going to get away with stealing my home.”

Squatters stop couple with disabled son from moving into home they bought

In a similar recent case, a couple in New York City were unable to move into a $2 million property they bought on Long Island near family members after a squatter took it over. They had bought it in October as a place to spend their retirement and take care of their son, who has Down syndrome.

The man living there, 32-year-old Brett Flores, has even advertised rooms in the home online for rent for $50 a night, while the new homeowners are forced to pay all the bills, including thousands of dollars in utility expenses. He has held up the court process repeatedly, using stalling tactics such as showing up for court without an attorney and filing for bankruptcy.

It’s a problem that more and more people are facing throughout the U.S. Although the length of time required for squatters to claim rights varies by location, the system often seems to side with squatters, forcing rightful homeowners to deal with the expense, time and stress involved in evicting them.

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