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NYC homeowners dealing with squatters may have new options thanks to this bill in the New York State Budget

Legislation passed in New York State Budget may help homeowners dealing with squatters
Legislation passed in New York State Budget may help homeowners dealing with squatters 01:51

NEW YORK - A new piece of legislation passed in the New York State Budget clarifies the distinction between squatters and tenants, offering new options for homeowners dealing with squatters.

Bill aims to reinforce New York laws against squatters

A bill passed in the New York State Budget that aims to reinforce existing laws against squatters.

It was proposed by State Sen. Jessica Scarcella-Spanton, a Democrat who represents Southern Brooklyn and Staten Island.

"I thought it was irresponsible to pass any housing policy without addressing this issue," she says.

The legislation essentially clarifies a legal distinction between squatters and tenants.

"This will give homeowners their homes back, and give our District Attorney the ability to charge squatters with burglary," she adds.

Spanton's office says she introduced a more comprehensive bill in the Senate last month that adds squatting to the definition of criminal trespass. That bill is still being reviewed.

Manhattan Beach community says squatting is a familiar problem

At 178 Mackenzie St., an open garage full of overflowing trash is a haven for rodents. The Manhattan Beach home has allegedly been occupied by squatters for several months. Nobody was home when CBS New York's Hannah Kliger knocked on the door.

The property has neighbors on edge. One woman who asked to remain anonymous says two cars park in the driveway nearly every day, and she has seen several men entering the property for weeks.

"It's a safety matter, also. There's little children here," she says. "You don't know who they are, they just decided to come here, so I don't think it's right."

Local leaders say the homeowner was an elderly woman who died last year and has no next-of-kin. 

"If they're willing to occupy a place illegally, you can only imagine what's going on behind closed doors," Spanton says.

Residents say it's not the first squatting situation in this community.

Republican Councilwoman Inna Vernikov, who represents the neighborhood, says her office has been working on a similar complaint a few blocks away.

"This could happen to almost anyone, affecting not only the homeowner, but the neighbors and surrounding community as well," Vernikov says.

Have a story idea or tip in Brooklyn? Email Hannah by CLICKING HERE.

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