Sonja Lee Houston single mom of two facing eviction receives insensitive get out notice after falling behind 3 months rent following coronavirus. Swapnil Agarwal, CEO of Karya Property Management, Steeples apartment complex operator now apologizes.
Sonja Lee, 33, who has been out of work since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, came home Monday to find the emoji filled notice taped to her door at the Steeples apartment complex in Houston, Texas, that read: ‘Guess who’s moving? You!!! Pay your outstanding balance or release your apartment and turn in your keys to the leasing office by 6:00 p.m. today. Eviction will be filed promptly Tuesday morning, 8/18/2020.’
‘I was mad, I ain’t going to lie,’ Lee told People magazine about receiving the letter. ‘I didn’t think it was funny at all. I felt like they were antagonizing the tenants through the situation and it was heartless, especially during a pandemic. A lot of people have lost their jobs. A lot of people aren’t able to get the resources. I was denied unemployment five times.’
Lee has been applying for jobs online for months and is three months behind in her rent.
‘I was overwhelmed because, to be honest, I felt like I was in a big hole and I couldn’t get out of it because I was set back so much,’ Lee told the magazine. ‘So it’s like, I’m a single mother with two boys. I do the best that I can and am a very hard-working woman … I didn’t know what I was going to do after exhausting all of my resources from calling 211, local health assistance, and wasn’t able to get through, I didn’t know what to do.’
HELPING HAND: Since getting the eviction note, Sonja Lee says her community has stepped up to help her family. One good Samaritan paid two months’ rent, and another footed a utility bill. ❤️ Plus, Sonja will start a new job in four days! https://t.co/fWBu3vlUDD
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) August 20, 2020
Landlord haranguing residents
Lee said despite being rejected four times unemployment benefits after being let go from Jack in the Box fast food franchise, she started working from home after finding a new job online, only to realize later it was a scam and was never paid for her work.
Following Lee’s story’s getting airplay, Swapnil Agarwal, CEO of Karya Property Management — which operates The Steeples complex — apologized on behalf of the company, telling KTRK: ‘Buck stops with me, so yes, I do personally apologize. I wish I had the time and the resources to reach out personally to every one of them who have dealt with any issues at our properties. But I am apologizing personally in case it was insensitive, and if she was really trying to work out a payment program with the property or that she was in communication with the manager, then I accept it’s truly our fault.’
Agarwal told the outlet the manager who wrote the eviction letter has been ‘reprimanded’ and Lee is no longer being evicted.
A GoFundMe page for Lee as of Saturday night had raised $34,826.