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What Is The Penalty For Squatting In New York?


Squatters occupy residences that they do not own or rent. Often, these individuals live inside vacant properties that no one is using. In their minds, it doesn’t make sense to allow these homes to sit empty when so many people struggle to find shelter in New York. But is squatting illegal in New York? What are a squatter’s rights in New York, and what crimes could you face after squatting in someone’s vacant home?

Squatter’s Rights in New York 

Although commonly known as “squatter’s rights,” this concept is called “adverse possession” in the legal world. Each state approaches this issue slightly differently, and New York is no exception. In the Empire State, someone gains “adverse possession” of a property if they remain there for at least 30 days.

After this one-month period, the squatter becomes a legal tenant – and not a trespasser. The classic example is a family that goes on vacation for a few months, returns home, and discovers random people living in their home. Depending on the circumstances, this family may need to go through the civil courts to forcibly evict the squatters. They cannot simply call the police and report the squatters as trespassers.

In reality, many squatters take up residence in foreclosed homes. These homes may be half-built or derelict. Squatters have existed in the United States for hundreds of years.

New Laws May Help New York Property Owners Crack Down on Squatters 

New York’s squatting laws may not remain generous for much longer. A new bill would make squatting a criminal act in New York. In other words, squatters would no longer be defined as tenants, and they could be charged with trespassing. In addition, the 30-day time limit could be extended to 45 days. If this bill passes, squatting would become criminal trespass in the third degree.

Criminal trespass in the third degree is a class B misdemeanor. In other words, it can lead to a jail sentence of up to three months and a fine of $2,000. It may make sense to fight these charges with a defense attorney. Even if you lack the funds to pay rent, your freedom is a worthwhile investment.

New York tried to make similar changes to its squatting laws about 10 years ago, but that effort failed.

Trespassing Defenses in New York 

If you are facing trespassing charges in New York after squatting, a range of defense strategies could be helpful. You could claim that you were never asked to leave, and that the property owner became aware of your presence but did nothing about it.

Find a Qualified Defense Attorney in New York 

If you’ve been searching for a qualified, experienced criminal defense lawyer who can help you with trespassing charges, look no further than Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney at Law. Over the years, we have helped numerous defendants throughout the Empire State – and we can do the same for you. Contact us now to begin fighting for your rights.




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Phillip J. Murphy,
Attorney At Law
Free Consultations Calls Answered and returned 24/7 Phone: (845) 639-6600 Fax: (845) 639-6620

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New City, New York 10956

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Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney At Law is located in New City, New York and serves clients in and around New York, New Jersey & Connecticut. Contact our experienced criminal defense law firm.
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