Watertown landlord blames squatter for mess at apartment building

Published: Apr. 3, 2023 at 5:45 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A Watertown apartment building has at least one squatter, a person just living there. The landlord says he didn’t rent to them, but he’s stuck with the mess and the expense.

Larry Danza owns 415 Gotham Street. He says one of the six units in the building has been occupied by a squatter or squatters since December 2022.

“Bad tenant moved in illegally after his mother had died. I never rented to him,” said Danza.

Needles, trash and debris surround the apartment building.

“I’ve been a landlord for Watertown for 30 years and this is the worst I’ve seen,” said Danza.

The city’s Bureau of Code Enforcement has cited Danza. He cleans the property but feels helpless because the mess just keeps coming back.

“It looks awful and look at the people that live around here - it’s disgusting to them,” he said.

With needles on the ground, Danza says this goes beyond a trash problem.

“They need to be arrested, put in jail, put in a program to help them out of drugs,” he said.

Code enforcement says a trash violation can cost hundreds of dollars and Danza would be on the hook. Danza hopes he can evict the squatter or squatters this Friday.

Two of the building’s apartments are occupied by paying tenants. Some of the other people living in the building say they are also tired of the situation and hope it gets resolved soon.