June is Home Ownership Month. Lots of New Yorkers wish they could become a homeowner, however, there are many barriers. But what if you could gain ownership of a house or property that was abandoned. Is it legal? Short answer, YES!
It might be hard to comprehend how you could get a court to legally give you ownership rights to an abandoned property, but it happens through squatter's rights or adverse possession.
Here's how it works.
If a person finds an abandoned and neglected property, if they move in, after 10 years of occupying it continuously, they could be considered the legal owner. According to Legal Beagle,
A person taking adverse possession of a home or land occupies someone else's property and, through this, can obtain squatter's rights. In New York State, a squatter who lives on property openly and without permission can claim adverse possession if they do so for 10 years uninterrupted.
If you are tired of paying rent and can make a forgotten property better by taking of it, it's not a bad deal right? But I'm sure you're thinking that 10 years is a long time. But, you can actually become classified as a tenant, with rights, after just 30 days. Then the burden falls on the owner to prove that they are indeed the legal owner.
To reclaim it, the owner must prove their legal right to it and evict the squatter with due process, a key tenant right. Eviction is a lengthy and expensive process. In some instances, landlords will pay off a squatter to avoid costly legal fees.
Yes, you read that right. An individual can inhabit a property without permission and then force the owner to evict them through the legal eviction process. The thing is, many abandoned properties have long been forgotten about by the legal owner.
Before a person can try to claim an abandoned property as their own through adverse possession, they must: