Unemployed Houston mom of 2 hit with insensitive eviction notice

The eviction notice read: "Guess who's moving? You!!!" with a large smiling emoji that appeared to be waving.
HOUSTON -- A Houston apartment manager is facing disciplinary action after creating an eyebrow raising eviction notice.

Sonja Lee lives at The Steeples apartment complex. She said that around 2 p.m. on Monday, a notice to vacate was found folded and taped to her door.

It read, "Guess who's moving? You!!!" with a large smiling emoji that appeared to be waving.

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A Vallejo single mother was evicted mid-pandemic - and just six months after giving birth to twins. Unable to find shelter in the Bay Area, they were forced to go to Sacramento.


"So y'all think it's funny to antagonize the person that's going through financial hardship with putting an emoji stating, 'Guess who's moving today?' There was nothing funny about that," Lee said.

The mother of two said she lost her job in March when the Jack in the Box she was working at stopped putting her on the schedule. Lee says she was denied unemployment but has appealed five times.

She said she was able to make rent for April and May, but fell behind on rent for June and July. That's when she says she started talking to the property managers about her situation.

The letter goes on to say, "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."

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The woman said she and her children were evicted from their home in north Harris County in June after she lost her job due to COVID-19.


"This notice doesn't have any power (and) will not hold up in court," Jon-Ross Trevino with Lone Star Legal Aid said. "Just because this notice is on your door, doesn't mean the landlord is correct in what they've done."

According to Trevino, typically under law, a notice to vacate must be posted on the inside of a residence, and in most cases, a notice to vacate must give the tenant three days to leave before an eviction is filed.

The Steeples Apartments are owned by Houston-based firm Karya Property Management.

ABC13 reached out to corporate leadership at Karya Property Management. They say they understand the insensitive nature of the flyer and said the manager who created it was disciplined. ABC13 was told that the flyer was only used one time.

Additionally, a company-wide email was sent out on best practices reminding managers they are only allowed to distribute flyers pre-approved by corporate.

Swapnil Agarwal, founder of Karya Property Management, says Lee is not under eviction and nothing has been filed against her.

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California will resume eviction and foreclosure proceedings on Sept. 2, stoking fears of a wave of evictions during the coronavirus pandemic unless the governor and state Legislature can agree on a proposal to extend protections into 2021.

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