New York Homeowner Arrested After Changing Locks When Finding ‘Squatters’

A homeowner in New York found themselves removed from property they own and placed under arrest after changing the locks when they found people that they did not know occupying the home.

Though the homeowner is now not facing any charges, the incident paints a picture of the difficulties faced by law enforcement and homeowners in “squatter” cases in New York.

According to the Queens District Attorney, Adele Andaloro inherited the home from her father and she says it was unoccupied when she visited it in January.

But Andaloro said that when she went to visit the property in February, she found the property had a different door. She said that over the next several days she witnessed a man in the property that authorities identified as Brian Rodriguez.

Days later Andaloro said she identified other people also living in the house. She says she does not know Rodriguez nor did she lease the property to him or the other people in the house.

The day that Andaloro changed the locks, Rodriguez returned to the house and pushed in through the entry, arguing that he had legal rights to the unit and calling the police.

New Yrok
New York City has seen a rising number of headlines over incidents of “squatting.”

Stock Photo/Francesco Riccardo Iacomino via Getty Images

“When police officers arrived at the scene, Rodriguez claimed that he was a legal tenant being harassed by the owner to unlawfully evict him. Andaloro was then removed from the property,” the Queen’s District Attorney’s office said in a statement.

Reports showed Andaloro being lead away in handcuffs before later meeting with authorities.

“Andaloro met with the Queens District Attorney’s office and an investigation was launched by the District Attorney’s Housing and Worker Protection Bureau,” the District Attorney’s office said in its statement.

Following the investigation, Rodriguez was indicted on charges of burglary, among other allegations, for what authorities say was illegally occupying a home and renting it to others.

Contacted for comment on Monday, the Queens District Attorney’s office referred Newsweek to the original statement that detailed the allegations against Rodriguez but added that there were “no charges pending against Adele Andaloro.”

In the earlier statement, Melinda Katz, the Queens District Attorney, said: “You cannot first enter a home without permission, then stay without permission and later claim vested rights simply because the legitimate owner is unaware or has been unable to remove you for 30 days.,” adding that, “the defendant in this case is alleged to have entered and stayed in this home unlawfully. He has now been charged with burglary and grand larceny.”

Newsweek contacted Rodriguez’s lawyer Jerald Levine via phone on Monday and they declined to comment.

Rodriguez pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to The New York Post. The paper also reported that he denied being a squatter and that he was prepared to return the property to Andaloro.

The issue of squatting in New York has gained headlines in recent weeks. The state has regulations that if someone has stayed at a property for 30 days, they can argue that they have rights of tenants. But experts have also said that instances of people taking over someone else’s home are rare and that some landlords are using the issue to deny people their rights as tenants.

Authorities in New York have said it is illegal to occupy a property without having any rights to it.

On Monday, New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul as part of her Fiscal 2025 budget, said she would strengthen that delineation between squatters and tenants.

“Governor Hochul reached an agreement to reinforce existing law to make clear that squatters are not tenants, and thus are not entitled to these and other tenant protections,” her office said in a statement.