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  • Carl J. Muraco

Squatter, Licensee or Tenant

Squatter, evict squatter, evict my tenant

Many people have heard of "squatter rights". This phrase "squatter rights" has come to refer to the law regarding if a squatter stays at a premises for 30 days or more, the owner then is required to serve a 10 day notice to quit. However, if you find a squatter prior to the 30 days then a landlord has the right to change the locks provided no physical force is used. The best way to do this is to wait until the occupants leaves the premises then change the locks. Once the squatter returns you should call the police and tell them you changed the locks on a squatter who broke into the premises. The police should then direct the squatter to go file an "illegal eviction" in housing court. If the occupant is a squatter then you will prevail in housing court. My office often handles these type of cases and is ready to assist.

Squatters have recieved much press in the news about their nefarious ways recently. Many people use the word "squatter" to mean any occupant that is staying in the premises however a squatter has a specific legal definition.


The definition of a squatter in New York for purposes of landlord tenant court is an occupant who gained access without permission from anyone and is now occupying the premises.


An easy example of a squatter is a person who breaks into a vacant home and starts living there; this is an obvious squatter.

A person who gets permission from the owner to stay for a few months and then refuses to leave is not a squatter but is known as a licensee. The difference is subtle but important for legal purposes.


For purposes of evicting an occupant it is necessary to determine what type of occupant is in possession so that you can serve the proper notice and commence the proper case.


A licensee is an occupant who received permission to enter the premises without rent from the owner or from a tenant but now refuses to vacate; this type of eviction requires a 10 day notice.

A squatter as discussed above is someone who enters without permission and requires a 10 day notice.

A "tenant at will" is a person who has been given permission from the owner to reside in a unit and has exclusive possession over the unit and never paid rent; this type of occupant requires at least a 30 day notice.

A tenant is an occupant who agreed to paid rent at least once and requires a 30 or 60 or 90 day notice depending on length of time of occupancy. If less than 1 year then a 30 day notice is required; if between 1-2 years then a 60 day notice is required; if 2 or more years then a 90 day notice is required.

The notice must always terminate on the last day of the monthly term.


These laws above are subject to good cause eviction; small landlord who owns 10 units or less are exempt from good cause eviction and are able to proceed however if you own 11 residential units or more in NY then you may be subject to good cause eviction law.


Landlord Tenant law and housing court have become very technical with cases being dismissed for any number of reasons. It is extremely important to speak to an experienced attorney in order to start the



case properly so that you can win the case.

My office is in housing court everyday and we have the knowledge to handle any type of case. Call me now to discuss your case today, 718-938-9732.


*****this may be deemed attorney advertisement; this is not legal advise and shall only be deemed general information.

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