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Westhampton Couple Stranded In Florida, Unable To Force Squatter From Family Home Due To Eviction Moratorium

WESTHAMPTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- There has been a pause on evictions and rent collections for people in New York state struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But some privileged tenants are taking advantage and squatting in style, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported Monday.

Elyse Zaccaro and her husband, Tommy Del Zoppo, are stranded in Florida while their family home in Westhampton is occupied by a tenant and his girlfriend who refuse to leave.

"It's really emotional because it's my home," Zaccaro said.

"What I don't think the governor realized is the collateral damage," Del Zoppo said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's non-eviction order has led to squatting in the Hamptons.

CBS2 first reported on the problem in Sag Harbor in May.

Police, courts and village clerks say the well-intentioned moratorium, scheduled to be lifted Aug. 20, was put in place to protect those with COVID-19 and those financially struggling amid the pandemic.

"It's disgraceful to take advantage of something the governor put in place for people in need," Zaccaro said.

"We can't get into our house and we have somebody who's not COVID-affected taking advantage under the umbrella of this moratorium," Del Zoppo said.


McLogan knocked on the door of their home.

"Who is it? What is this in regard to?" the man said.

"Elyse and Tommy say they're trying to move back into their house and you are not vacating," McLogan said.

The squatter refused to answer questions about why he stopped paying rent, the BMW he drives, bicycles he rides, and his apartment in the city.

"This man has a home in Trump Palace," Zaccaro said.

RELATED STORY: NYC Rent Guidelines Board Votes For Stabilized Rent Freeze

Realtors say the tenant even listed and rented the two upstairs bedrooms on Airbnb. The village was only able to cancel the beach pass.

Attorneys across the Hamptons say with courts closed, hands are tied. Tenant-homeowner cases are supposed to be expedient.

"That's not going to be the case I think pragmatically when the floodgates open, for a lack of better terms, and the courts are inundated with all these eviction proceedings," Westhampton attorney Christian Killoran said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

"It's not about the money or getting back back rent. I actually don't care about that as much as getting him out of the home," Del Zoppo said.

Plans are now dashed to spend a summer hiatus at home with their son and elderly parents.

"What we've lost is just precious family time," Zaccaro said.

"A homeowner absolutely has no rights and no recourse. I can't even go in front of somebody to prove and argue a case in front of a judge," Del Zoppo said.

"I've emailed the governor, I've tweeted the governor," Zaccaro said.

CBS2 has also reached out. The governor's staff said the attorney general will look into this loophole in the moratorium.


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