ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Squatters can be very frustrating to deal with as a homeowner. In New York State, squatters have many rights, and understanding the laws is critical to tackling this issue with ease.

Their rights include:

  • Owners do not have the right to turn squatter utilities off, which can dampen their quality of life and is actually considered an illegal eviction.
  • Owners cannot lock squatters out of their property they must rely on the court and sheriff’s office to evict a tenant
  • Squatters must be given a legal notice and owners must follow the appropriate steps to remove the tenant.

According to New York’s laws, there are different situations involving squatters:

  • Actual is when a squatter has actual possession of the property
  • Open and Notorious means the person has occupied the property in a way that is deemed obvious.
  • Hostile is when the occupant has entered the property without the owner’s permission.
  • Continuous, when an occupant continues to use the property for the entire duration of statutes of limitations

“In order to properly evict a squatter the owner must serve that occupant a 10-day notice to vacate the property,” said Attorney Stephen Hoffman from Hinman, Howard, and Kattell. “After 10 days the owner can go to court and seek holdover eviction. Once the petition is filed and the proceedings are successful the owner can then give the squatter a two-week notice to vacate the property.”

“It is a growing problem all over the state of New York so it’s best to treat your properties like a business,” added Hoffman.