Squatters' rights to adverse possession of real property are governed by New York Code, Article 5. The state's adverse possession laws are stricter than those in many other jurisdictions, and the state legislature amended them in 2008 to make it even more difficult for a squatter to claim title to property via this route.
Adverse Possession Requirements
"Adverse possession" is a legal way of obtaining title to the property of another through occupation of the property without the owner's consent. This occupation must be obvious, hostile, continuous and notorious. This means the squatter must live on the property openly and without permission of the owner. New York law requires that this use must continue uninterrupted for a period of at least 10 years.
A 2008 amendment to the state's adverse possession laws has made the "hostile" requirement of the statutes more difficult to fulfill. Squatters must now also hold a genuine belief that they have legal rights to ownership of the property.
An individual living on property without an active lease has a right under New York state law to remain on the property until the legal owner goes through the required process of serving him with a Notice to Quit. The notice informs the squatter that he has 10 days to vacate the property. If he refuses, the property owner must then file a document known as a holdover petition with the court.
This legal action allows the property owner to file a formal complaint to have the squatter removed by law enforcement. NY Court Help offers a free program for property owners who do not have the help of an attorney.
New York City Squatters
If a squatter in New York City can prove he's resided in a property for more than 30 days, he has a right to continue living there until the legal owner goes through a court process to obtain a legal eviction. This can be time-consuming, taking up to a year. It is against New York City law to evict anyone immediately, including a squatter.
The Process Can Be Tricky
The process of removing someone from your property can be tricky and time-consuming, and you'll probably have to go back to the beginning and start the process all over again if you make a mistake. If you don't want to hire an attorney to represent you, consider at least consulting with one so you can be sure you fully understand all the rules.
- New York State Attorney General: FAQs About Real Estate
- New York State Office of General Counsel: Adverse Possession of State Land
- Nolo: Who Can Claim Property Based on Adverse Possession in New York
- NY Courts: Tenant Questions and Answers, Holdover Eviction Cases in New York State
- NY Housing Court: A Landlord's Guide to the New York City Housing Court
- Touro Law Review: New York's Adverse Possession Law: An Abdication of Personal Responsibility