Smullen: Nadia Vitels and Other Victims of ‘Squatters’ Deserve Justice

A Statement from Assemblyman Robert Smullen (R,C-Mohawk Valley and the Adirondacks) 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.

“Nadia Vitels was brutally beaten to death, allegedly by two squatters who had moved into her deceased mother’s New York City apartment—Nadia’s death will not be in vain.

“Squatting-related incidents in our state are on the rise and out of control, and they are setting a precedent that poses a direct threat to public safety. If New York homeowners do not reserve the right to quickly remove a complete stranger from their residence, more tragedies like the one Nadia faced will come to pass in the near future. This will not be tolerated by the Assembly Minority Conference.

“I fully support the bill introduced by my colleagues to redefine the term ‘tenant’ so it excludes squatters. This change is absolutely necessary and is a common-sense approach to a glaring problem in our state’s legal system. We cannot continue to put squatters’ rights above the rights of New York residents and families—it is dangerous and irresponsible.”