NYC Squatter Rights Prevent Couple From Moving Into $2M Dream Home

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Squatter rights home
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The “nightmare” squatter rights in New York City have prevented a couple and their disabled son from moving into their luxury retirement home.

Squatter rights keep couple out of their home

After purchasing their $2 million Queens dream home, Susana and Joseph Landa, both 68, find themselves in a legal nightmare, unable to evict a squatter who has overtaken their property.

The couple, who looked forward to enjoying their retirement and caring for their son with Down Syndrome at the newly bought Douglastown residence, have been in limbo since last October due to the unwelcome occupant.

The Landa family is no stranger to the area, having spent decades there raising their three children.

The dream property came into their possession following the death of its previous 80-year-old owner in 2023.

However, Brett Flores, 32, who claims to have been a caretaker to the deceased owner, is now asserting his right to reside there, and adding insult to injury by renting out rooms.

“It has become a nightmare, a total nightmare,” Joseph told ABC7 about the insane situation.

Scammer racking up bills that couple is on the hook for because of squatter rights

Four months since after they purchased the home, the Landas are left on the outside looking in, and have been forced to navigate housing court proceedings in an attempt to dislodge Flores.

Flores insists that he is entitled to stay in the home due to his previous position. For his services, Flores was compensated $3,000 a week by the owner before the Landas stepped in as the new homeowners.

New York City laws complicate the matter, granting rights to squatters like Flores who manage to establish over 30 days of continuous occupation.

This legal foothold enables adverse possession claims, frustrating rightful owners like the Landas who, perplexed and outraged, find themselves powerless, questioning the logic of such rules.

“If you have no lease and you’re not paying rent, what is your right?” an indignant Joseph argues.

Meanwhile, it’s the Landas shouldering the household expenses, including over $2,000 in electricity bills, that Flores and his tenants have racked up while he lives rent-free.

Attempts by the homeowners to take charge of the situation, including accessing the house with an insurance inspector, have been thwarted by Flores, who had the gall to involve the police.

“Broken” legal system has kept couple out due to squatter rights

The legal battle has dragged the Landas through five civil court hearings, facing continuous delays.

Furthermore, Flores’s recent bankruptcy filing in January 2024 has stalled legal actions, even as the family endures the burden of utility charges caused by Flores’s consumption.

“I never would imagine we have no rights, no rights at all, nothing, zero,” lamented Susana, voicing her disbelief at the failings of the “broken” legal system that leaves them feeling abandoned and impotent in their struggle for justice.

“It makes me feel completely forgotten in this legal system, unfair and not able to do anything,” added Joseph.

A grim “no comment” from Flores’ attorney contrasts sharply with the serious and proactive steps taken by the Landas, who’ve hired a high-profile security guard to monitor the property.

The seasoned guard, who has worked notably high-profile cases including the 2021 wedding of Bill Gates’ daughter, shared his views with the DailyMail, “These people are good people, it is a shame what is going on.”

This guard now stands sentry outside the home, asserting his employment by the rightful owners and adding his critical perspective on squatters’ laws.

“Whoever made those [squatters’ rights] rules up is smoking some kind of crack,” he remarked.

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