Gallahan: Squatters Are Cheating and Abusing Our Legal System to Mooch off Innocent New Yorkers Like Nadia Vitels

A Statement from Assemblyman Jeff Gallahan (R,C-Manchester) in response to an Assembly Minority press conference in Albany on March 27, 2024, to address the high number of squatting-related incidents happening statewide and put forth a bill to redefine the term “tenant” to exclude squatters.

“My thoughts go out to the family of Nadia Vitels, a woman who apparently was viciously attacked by two squatters who had been occupying her late mother’s New York City apartment. Nadia’s death needs to be a turning point in how we address squatting-related incidents, which are on the rise throughout New York state.

“Failing to protect New York homeowners from complete strangers who are willing to infiltrate and occupy their homes with the full knowledge they cannot be forced out quickly has created a recipe for disaster. This failure in our legal system has now claimed the life of Nadia Vitels and has consumed the lives of other homeowners statewide as they attempt to fight back against freeloading squatters who refuse to leave their residences. Are current property laws that protect alleged squatters truly in the best interest of homeowners who are being drained financially, mentally and emotionally simply to have a say in who occupies their home?

“I support this proposal to clarify that the term ‘tenant’ should exclude the term ‘squatter’ from its definition. It’s time to give power back to New York families and restore public safety in our state.”