Podcast 299: Fine of $150,000 for Private Landlord

Learn the backstory of this massive fine and what we as landlords and property managers can learn from it.

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Show Transcription:

Eric Worral: (00:00)
Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of RentPrep for Landlords. This is episode # 299 and I’m your host Eric Worral. And we’ve got a quick episode for you today, but a pretty big topic, or at least a salacious title. And we’re going to be talking about a landlord who was fined $150,000 and why they were fined and what they could have done to avoid it. I’m gonna get to that right after this.

Voice Over: (00:29)
Welcome to the RentPrep for Landlords podcast! And now your host, Eric.

Eric Worral: (00:34)
So today’s featured story comes from AJC, which is the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And it’s an article by Maya T. Prabhu, which was written on February 14th, 2020 so in this article, it talks about how some North Georgia landlords have apologized to the woman they evicted in 2018 because she invited black guests to the Adairsville home she was renting.

Eric Worral: (01:00)
So a really quick summary of today’s podcast is basically the person who is living at this rental property, uh, had a guest over who was black and the tenant was white, if that matters to her. The story and the, uh, the tenant was having over a male, a black friend who had a kid and they were coming over to play with her, uh, her two kids who were close in age to the male friend and the landlord actually showed up and let the person know that this was not okay. Uh, made some racial slurs at the tenant and said that she was going to call child protective services for letting her kids play with those kids. I mean, some truly just horrific things that you’d like to believe aren’t happening. And I guess this would have been 2018. Uh, but you know, I think we all know that that’s kind of an ignorant viewpoint to have to think that these things don’t happen.

Eric Worral: (01:55)
But one of the interesting things about this story is how many things got involved and what that price tag was to that landlord of $150,000. And what the meaning of that is. So to get a little context from Sutton, who is the tenant, she said in her statement that my landlord, his behavior was not just immoral, it was also illegal. I’m glad to see the McCoys are being held accountable and hope this settlement brings us one step closer to creating a more justice side where people of all races can live together without fear. So according to her boss suit, uh, you know, in this kind of recapping a little bit, but she was renting month to month starting in August 2017. September 2018 is when she had the guest over. And then, uh, the landlord, uh, Allen McCoy appeared at her home and told her she would have to leave. Uh, it also says that a Sutton recorded Sutton being the tenant recorded a conversation with Patricia McCoy, which was the, uh, also the landlord in which she told her landlord, uh, she had not done anything to deserve this.

Eric Worral: (02:53)
And Patricia accused her of saying, maybe you like black dogs, but I don’t. So get your stuff and out again, really awful, horrible thing that she’s insinuating there. Uh, and it frankly, it feels great to hear that these people got $150,000 fine. And I know sometimes there’s just adversarial landlord versus tenant relationship and it gets talked about a lot in this podcast. And of course, you know, we’re always looking out for landlords and this particular podcast, I am looking out for landlords. I think there are some lessons you can pull from this. I don’t think it’s a lesson, like, you know, just to be kind to people and not be, you know, a jerk. Uh, that’s not what it’s about. But in this particular case, his landlord got what was coming to them, but the $150,000 fine, it’s pretty, pretty crazy, right? But it’s not like they just said something awful that was a racial slur.

Eric Worral: (03:43)
They also, you know, inhibited on these people’s rights, uh, in a lot of different ways. So the article goes into are the attorneys for sudden again, the tenant, uh, sued the McCoy’s, arguing their actions, violated the federal civil rights act and the federal and state fair housing acts. So you have three different acts that they’re saying they’re in violation of. So then when you know, this new story spreads, uh, the American civil liberties union of Georgia and the Cohen Milstein boss, uh, firm filed the lawsuit on Sutton’s behalf. So I’m not like an attorney, so I don’t really know what that means in the fact that there was two different parties, uh, filing the lawsuit. But what I gather from that is that her attorneys, Cohen Milstein law firm filed, but then a separate entity, the American civil liberties union of Georgia file. And it’s just a, it’s crazy to me that somebody can be this, uh, not, not only hateful but just dumb, you know, telling people who can come over and visit to their house and dictating that kind of thing to them.

Eric Worral: (04:48)
I won’t care if it was an alien coming from another planet as a landlord. I’m not going to say anything. I’m going to say, Oh, I saw you had some aliens over. Cool. I wouldn’t even say that. And Oh, I think what you’re going to find with this story is if they had fined them $1,500, that it probably wouldn’t have really made any news at all. I certainly wouldn’t be talking about it on this podcast, but when it’s $150,000 to a small-time landlord, that is huge. I mean, anybody can understand that, that you’re not gonna make money on that property unless you hold it for a hundred years. So, uh, they just kind of sank their own investment in that form. They’re just because they are awful people and they really deserved it. Uh, but the other thing that’s interesting to keep in mind too is sometimes you have disagreements with your tenants and it’s not something where it’s so obviously right and wrong.

Eric Worral: (05:41)
Like this story. It could be something where it’s a little bit, you know, questionable. And you know, these things come up, whether it’d be wear and tear or damage of other sorts to the property that happened. But in this case, you can see that the recording that was used was actually used against the landlord. And I’m sure that the tenant did not let them know that they were recording the conversation, which really varies state by state and what the legalities of that are. But you know, the tenant recorded the conversation and that was another thing that contributed to this landlord incurring this huge, massive fine. Because really outside of that, it would have been kind of like a, he said, she said situation. So just be smart when you’re communicating with your tenants. Understand that some of you I know record conversations, uh, if it works in your States area, uh, but just don’t say something that’s incriminating, uh, don’t say something that you’re going to regret.

Eric Worral: (06:36)
Understand that there are conversations that are recorded and then of course, above all else, follow the national laws here. Uh, don’t be a jerk. Don’t be somebody who’s, you know, giving landlords a bad name. And I know it’s a very small percentage of the population, very small percentage of the population that, um, would read an article like this and think that the landlord got hosed. Uh, but, uh, just a do the right thing and be smart about the way you’re running your business and it is a business and this person was not running it as a business. Uh, so Bessie, a quick takeaway for today’s article, uh, and keep it in the news from ajc.com if you guys want to check that out, it’ll be in the show notes and yeah. Uh, you know, it’s kind of sad doing these types of, uh, podcasts, but I feel like they deserve, uh, the attention that they get because these things still happen.

Eric Worral: (07:26)
And, um, hopefully, you know, if you’re in a, a circle of landlord, you know, you’re at an investor meetup and you hear somebody make a joke or you hear somebody crack a joke, you know, you can, uh, be the bigger person and not laugh at it. Not, not feed into that kind of culture and, you know, say, Hey, you know, that’s a problem. That’s messed up. And you know, even if you disagree with me by the law’s not going to either. So, uh, sometimes that’s what people need is they need a, that’s scary fine that somebody else got to wisen upsell, whatever it may be. However, people can be kinder to each other and, uh, create a hospitable living situation for everybody that everybody deserves, I think is a better thing. So I, for 1:00 AM in favor of this massive fine, and I say, why not? You know, a person deserves it. All right guys, I will try and get on a more positive though, a track next week. I hope you guys have a great rest of your week and, uh, look forward to catching up with you next week. Take care.