CHARLOTTE — With North Carolina’s eviction moratorium still in effect, the manager of City Inn in Charlotte created a “Wall of Shame,” displaying photocopies of the driver’s licences of 19 tenants who are behind on rent.
The display board was placed in the motel foyer, listing in full view the private information and exact arrears of each resident, with an “I owe” statement accompanying each driver’s license, FOX 46 Charlotte reported.
“This is an absolute violation of someone’s rights,” Seema Iyer, FOX’s chief legal correspondent, said about the landlord’s punitive tactic.
Residents said that they felt humiliated and violated by property manager Robin Mcneely, FOX 46 Charlotte reported. The residents informed them that all of the publicly shamed tenants are Black and the landlord is White.
“The owner could have talked to us,” one resident, Jontiez Barrier told FOX. He said he was “pissed” about how the landlord managed the situation without a clear line of communication nor compromise.
“They could have set up a plan. This could have been done so much better.”
Like many of his fellow tenants, Barrier struggled to make timely rent payments due to financial hardships caused by the pandemic. He works in the foodservice industry, but his work hours were reduced due to restaurant closures, he told FOX.
“I had a job but not making the money,” Barrier said.
Ris Max, a friend of one of the City Inn tenants, has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help his family move out of the motel and pay off outstanding rent.
Max said that his friend was furloughed in summer 2020 and has since returned to work. Even though the tenant has been paying his monthly rent, he has been unable to catch up on his arrears. According to Max, McNeely would not accept installments.
“She will only accept the amount in full even though he has tried to pay her back in small sums from each paycheck,” the GoFundMe stated. The fundraiser has generated over USD$6,000 for the affected family.
“He is trying to find a lawyer to represent him, but he feels that the system is against him and honestly doesn’t know where to turn for help.”
Indeed, experts said that the City Inn tenants could take legal action against the landlord.
“Whoever’s being targeted would absolutely have grounds for a civil lawsuit,” said Iyer. “Or even some type of criminal harassment.”
Another resident, Shana Jones, feared that the exposure of her private information would endanger her family. She had been a victim of identity theft in the past, she said to FOX.
“I feel you jeopardized the safety of myself and my children by putting my information out there.” Jones and her family have been living at City Inn for the past year.
She told FOX that she exhausted her unemployment funds and was unable to work due to a high-risk pregnancy, a struggle compounded by COVID-19. “We’re trying to do the best we can, but it’s very hard when we’re stuck in the middle of a pandemic,” she said.
Mcneely charges rent on a weekly basis. When FOX’s reporter asked her for a statement, she told them, “you do not want to hear” her side of the story. City Inn has not responded to INN24’s request for a comment.
City Inn Charlotte’s Facebook page indicates that its managerial board has a longstanding habit of doxxing patrons.
On August 6, 2019, City Inn posted screenshots of former guests’ Facebook profiles, who had allegedly water damaged one of the motel rooms. The screenshots showed the guests’ full names, along with profile and banner images, including one of an infant.
“Anyone knows where we can find these people?” the caption reads. “They flooded one of our rooms!”
Scrolling down on City Inn’s Facebook page, there are other occasions where the motel had turned to its followers to identify former guests.
A post from March 1, 2019, read, “Does anyone know this girl?” with a screenshot of a woman’s Facebook profile below the caption. Another post from November 15, 2018, showed what appeared to be a covert image of a man with the caption, “Anyone knows this man?”
Tenants facing eviction are protected by a temporary moratorium, if eligible, effective until March 31, as written on the North Carolina Judicial Branch’s website.
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