A judge has declared that a New York City woman must continue to live with a ‘serial grifter’ even though she’s allegedly been squatting in her home for months – without paying rent.
Heidi Russell, who lives in Manhattan’s West Village, told the New York Post that on Saturday, a city judge ordered her to keep living with Kate Gladstone, 44, who was supposed to be a short-term renter.
Russell said that she had offered to let Gladstone – who she had rented to in the past – use the spare bedroom in her 650-square-foot apartment for $2,000 a month in June 2019.
A judge has decided that Heidi Russell (left) must continue to allow Kate Gladstone, 44 (right), to live in her home due to the city’s ban against evictions during the coronavirus pandemic
But, Russell said that she suddenly needed the room back for her mother, who was due to have surgery, so she asked Gladstone to vacate the premises by June 30, 2019.
Gladstone ‘flew off the handle, yelling, “No, no, impossible, you’re going to ruin my life. … I’m not leaving,”‘ Russell told the newspaper.
In court papers, Russell claimed that Gladstone’s method of backing up that claim involved moving her daughter into the room she was renting, while she slept in the living room. The papers also stated that Gladstone threatened to sue Russell and that she moved boxes of her possessions into the living room.
Additionally, Russell claimed that Gladstone – self-described documentary filmmaker – would spray her with cleaning chemicals and saturate door handles and doors with the liquid, according to the lawsuit.
Russell said that she resorted to using the bathroom at friends’ homes or in nearby laundry facilities, while also trying to avoid interacting with Gladstone, and her daughter, by wearing headphones when she returned home.
Another one of Gladstone’s behaviors, according to Russell, was to sit in the dark and then record her when Russell got home.
Russell claims that Gladstone, meant to be a short-term renter, has been squatting in her home for months. Russell said Gladstone moved her possessions into her living room (pictured)
Russell said that she originally asked Gladstone to vacate her home at the end of June 2019. Russell’s living room is pictured prior to Gladstone moving into her home
Russell told the newspaper that Gladstone would steal her food, accost her when she used the bathroom or kitchen and allow her dog to urinate inside the apartment. Russell said Gladstone accused her of scaring her daughter, too.
Russell said that Gladstone was due to be evicted from her home in March, but that coronavirus stopped it from happening, as courts banned evictions during the pandemic.
Consequently, Russell said that she would have to leave her own apartment during the day to avoid Gladstone.
‘She’s turned me into a homeless person during the pandemic,’ Russell told the newspaper. ‘I’m out on the street, with my mask and my old dog in a carriage. It’s just taken over our lives.’
Russell said she was stuck with Gladstone until July, when the woman suddenly left for 17 days.
During that time, Russell said she changed the locks out of fear that Gladstone might’ve shared the keys with someone else. When Gladstone returned and couldn’t get back inside the apartment she was allegedly squatting in, she went to housing court to claim that she’d been illegally locked out.
A judge said that Russell had to allow Gladstone back into her home and that only city marshals could legally remove her.
Russell appealed the decision, but on Saturday, a second judge agreed with the original ruling.
Gladstone is expected to return to Russell’s home Sunday and if that happens, Russell said, ‘she’s never going to leave.’
Russell is now appealing the second judge’s decision, but NYC’s coronavirus-induced eviction ban in NYC has been extended to October 1.
Russell, who was laid off in 2019, said she is now ‘financially ruined’ and ‘scared for my safety.’
The New York Post reported that Gladstone has allegedly squatted in people’s West Village homes at least three times in the past.
Court records obtained by the newspaper indicate that she has been accused of squatting, harassing landlords and refusing to pay rent, and was arrested twice – once for alleged stalking and a second time for forgery and grand larceny after allegedly stealing an ex’s credit card and using it to pay for hotel rooms.
She is expected in court in September on those charges.
Matt Titus, an author and matchmaker who rented Gladstone his West Village apartment in 2017, told the newspaper that she is ‘just absolutely one of the most vile, terrible human beings I have ever encountered.’
He claimed that she had squatted in his apartment, along with her daughter, for months, ruining his credit and leaving him with $20,000 in debt.
Meanwhile, Gladstone’s ex-girlfriend claimed that she squatted in her West Village home for months and wouldn’t leave until she was paid off with $20,000.
Gladstone denied Russell’s claims, telling the New York Post that she ‘can’t even comment.’
Russell believes that even if Gladstone, who she called a ‘serial grifter,’ were offered free housing, the woman wouldn’t take it because ‘she wants to live in the village. She wants the prestige, she wants her child to go to school here.’