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‘Cheaper than going the legal route’

A Staten Island squatter who has been living in a deceased person’s home for six years will vacate it if the deceased’s family pays for his moving expenses.

“It’s a really strange story,” Donna Kent, whose father owned the Metcalfe Street home until he died in 2012, admitted to The Washington Post on Friday.

“He wants me to pay for moving expenses when he moves out, which is a bit crazy, but I think it’s cheaper than taking legal action,” said Kent, a mother of two adult daughters.

Kent, 55, said it appeared a squatter named Kyle had been living in the 2.5-storey detached home since about 2018 without paying rent, after a series of strange events.

The squatters had allegedly been living in a Staten Island home rent-free for six years after the owner died. News Nation
In the messy house, a twin-sized mattress serves as a door between rooms. Courtesy of Sal Taormina
Donna Kent, the late homeowner’s daughter, visited the house last weekend to look through personal belongings before putting it up for sale. News Nation

Among the rumored twists and turns is that her father’s wife died in 2013, after which her stepmother’s daughter rented out the house, only to die a few years later.

The tenant then left for Pennsylvania and his cousin, Kyle, moved in and has been living there for free ever since, Kent and real estate agent Sal Taormina said, citing the squatters.

Kyle’s position is, “I’m not trespassing.”

“I thought someone would show up someday. [to collect rent]but nobody came.” he told NewsNation.was first to report the news.

Kent said he met Kyle for the first time last weekend when he visited the house with his mother and Taormina to acquire personal belongings before the property went on the market.

They set their sights on the attic, but Kyle never went in there because “it felt so intrusive, and it just seemed a little weird,” Kent said.

Kent, local real estate agent Sal Taormina and the squatters met at the house last weekend. Courtesy of Donna Kent

“[Kyle] “He was very kind, very good,” Kent said. Taormina recalled that Kent hugged the squatters when they met.

“He said he just paid for his son’s wedding. I was like, ‘You’re welcome. I paid for your son’s wedding,'” Kent joked, adding, “It was just a joke.”

Taormina, who called Kyle “one of the nicest squatters I’ve ever met,” said the “moving fee” would amount to one month’s rent, one month’s security deposit and any agent’s fees if the next property they move into requires one.

Kent as a young girl with her father, Richard St.Mere. Courtesy of Donna Kent
Kent said she noticed the house was overflowing with trash and other items. News Nation

“Less than $10,000,” the real estate agent estimated.

“Some people might be upset that he’s getting something, but the truth is, he’s in the house,” Taormina said.

Kent said he first learned of the situation several years ago when he was contacted by a bank whose mortgage he owed heavily on.

On behalf of her two sisters and half-brother, who are heirs to their father Richard Saint-Mier’s estate, she said they are working with Taormina, a local expert on squatter issues, to devise a solution that will work best for everyone.

Kent, who works in marketing, was born in Astoria, Queens, and now lives in Tucson, Ariz. She said she has never lived in the house and first went to see it about five years ago after a lender contacted her.

“I looked at the window and there was a stranger sitting there and my internet router was flashing. I was scared,” Kent said, adding that she then left the house.

The mother of two, originally from New York City but now living in Tucson, hopes to help sell the home soon. News Nation

Taormina said the property currently owes about $530,000 in back mortgage and tax payments but was only just appraised at $210,000, given its current state of disrepair.

Kent said the condition of the home was “just awful,” with a large hole in one part of the ceiling and Kyle using a twin-size mattress as a makeshift “door” to separate the two areas.

Taormina said he hopes the banks will do them a favour by reducing their debt so that everyone who is entitled to it can get a small share.

“I tried not to hold any grudge against him,” Kent said of Kyle, who apparently lives in the home with his girlfriend.

“What I learned from Sal is that if everyone is kind, things get resolved a lot quicker,” she said.

As she was leaving, she said Kyle said, “‘I believe in karma. I believe in doing the right thing.’

“So he may be feeling a great deal of guilt,” Kent said.