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A couple bought a house in New York for $2 million, but the man living there illegally refuses to leave


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A family who bought a home in the Douglaston neighborhood of Queens thought they would provide care and attention for their son with Down syndrome, but a squatter ruined their dream. As the Businessinsider, the trial in the case began late last year.

Joseph and Susannah Land purchased the entire property in October 2023 for $2 million. They soon discovered that Brett Flores had occupied their home and refused to vacate it. Five months have passed, and the couple has not moved into their purchased home. Flores said he has permission to live in the house from the previous owner, whom he cared for until his death in January 2023.

The man lived in a house in Douglaston with the previous owner.

The three-bedroom, four-bathroom home was previously owned by Bernard Fernandez. Flores cared for the elderly man until his death in January 2023. But then the man continued to live in the house, even after the Bernard Fernandez 2009 Revocable Trust applied for him.

The new trustee, Joseph Russo, sold the house for $2 million to the Land family. Since Flores was still in the house at this time, the couple were forced to take on the task of evicting him.

The Landes were unable to move into the house

The couple bought the property because it is next door to relatives.

“We hope to retire and, above all, provide for our son Alex, who has Down syndrome,” Susanna shared. However, their discovery of Flores disrupted their plans. Joseph called the situation “a complete nightmare.”

New York has some of the strictest laws in the country to protect squatters. Anyone who stays in the home for more than 30 days is considered a tenant and receives a temporary license.

On the subject: New York launches tenant helpline

“To reclaim the property from the squatter after 30 days, the owner must prove his right to it and begin legal eviction proceedings,” the message says. New York State Senate. It was here that the Lands encountered difficulties.

The couple said that five hearings have already been held, but the process is always dragging on. One day, Flores came to court without a lawyer. He then filed for bankruptcy, delaying the process. New York law states that when a tenant files for bankruptcy, the landlord cannot “take title or enforce a judgment” until the bankruptcy case is resolved.

The Lands said they gave Flores 10 days to leave, but when he and the insurance adjuster tried to enter the house, Flores called the police.

While the legal battle continues, Flores posted an advertisement on the Internet for renting out the house: he rents out one of the rooms for $50 a day. The couple say they now have to pay Flores' utility bills, which they estimate run into "thousands of dollars."

Flores filed a countersuit against the family

The Landes hired security to watch the house during the trial. The security guard said he sympathized with the family and called them “good people.”

After the family sued Flores, he countersued and called it harassment. Flores' lawyer, Dennis O'Sullivan, noted that Landa used intimidation tactics. Their lawyer, Anthony Mordente, said Flores asked the family to pay him money if they wanted him to leave, but they refused.

Court documents say Flores - known as Brett Fischer - was arrested in December 2023 for assault and harassment of his wife.
It is unknown whether Flores lives with his wife, with whom he has a child together. According to the source, this child is now connected to a ventilator.

“Revelation” will change the course of things

When Flores and his lawyer arrived in Queens County civil court, the judge asked them to produce audio recordings proving Flores' legal title to the house. The judge gave them one week to produce the audio recordings.

During the hearing, the lawyer stated that he was invited only a few hours before the hearing and needed more time to prepare. When asked why Flores did not provide the audio recordings or hire a lawyer before the hearing, O'Sullivan said Flores had “a newborn child with breathing problems.”

“The revelation will turn everything upside down,” noted Flores’ lawyer. “The owners of the house, the Lands, were not victims in this case.”

The next hearing was scheduled for April.

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