No-Eviction Rules Prompt Squatting in Posh Summer Enclaves

May 20, 2020

As no-eviction orders went into place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some landlords are finding tenants taking advantage of the situation by squatting in short-term rental properties, which they say is costing them thousands of dollars in missed returns they’ve come to rely on during this time of year.

Some short-term renters who moved into homes prior to the coronavirus outbreak are refusing to leave. Landlords are finding they don’t have any powers to get them to, either.

Reports of squatting are growing in exclusive getaways like the Hamptons. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo enacted a moratorium on evictions until at least Aug. 20 to protect renters who are facing financial hardship during the pandemic.

Citing such laws, some tenants are refusing to leave even though their leases are up.

“We’re not talking about poor people,” a homeowner said of his tenant. The homeowner told the New York Post that the tenant began paying $3,600 a month in October to rent his Sag Harbor property in New York. The tenant then told the owner they could not pay rent for April but never left the property.

Meanwhile, the owner says he’s missing out on payments when he could be getting $15,000 during the month of May by renting out the property, or at least $55,000 to rent the home between Memorial and Labor days.

To try to get tenants to move out before the summer season, some landlords reportedly are even offering cash as an incentive to move out and trying to find the tenant other homes to rent. But they say that has done little to get their tenants out.

Andrew Saunders, founder of the brokerage firm Saunders & Associates, told the New York Post that the laws in New York are allowing squatting to happen. New York’s non-eviction order does still mean renters will have to pay back the months they’ve been living there for free. However, landlords say it’s the low-paying tenants from off-season rentals that are refusing to leave.

“It’s an unintended consequence of newer laws that prevent people from being evicted right now,” Saunders says. “The homeowners can’t get the March-April tenants out, and they have their higher-paying tenants set to arrive Memorial Day.”