A Missouri woman who lost her job amid the coronavirus pandemic said this week that her landlord temporarily removed her front door after she fell two months behind on rent payments.
Hannah McGee told Fox’s St. Louis affiliate station, KTVI, that she has struggled to keep up with living expenses after losing her restaurant job.
McGee, who has lived in the same apartment in Fenton, Mo., for three years and whose mother has rented the apartment next door for over a decade, said she now owes her landlord $1,000.
“He’s always been a good landlord. I guess it just took one slip up,” McGee told the outlet. “I’ve lived here without a problem, no incidents whatsoever, I’ve been on time every month, but since COVID happened, I lost my job.”
McGee said she began using her closet doors where her front door used to be, with her 4-year-old daughter forced to stay at her grandmother’s apartment in order to stay warm.
“At night it gets definitely really cold, it’s kind of unbearable without it [the door],” McGee added.
Local attorney Rob Swearingen told KTVI that the removal of the front door violates state law, though he added that McGee’s experience is just one of many instances of landlords removing tenants’ services for not paying rent on time.
“We try to call landlords and inform them that they’re violating the law by illegally evicting people. You can only be evicted by a court order and with the sheriff present executing an eviction and right now that can’t be done in St. Louis City and St. Louis County,” Swearingen explained.
“The landlord needs to realize that the landlord has committed a tort and is liable for anything that happens to this tenant,” He added. “It’s more than negligence, its intentional infliction of emotional distress, it’s a violation of Missouri statutes and it’s unlawful eviction.”
A friend of McGee launched a GoFundMe page on Tuesday to support her and her daughter. By Wednesday afternoon, the page had received more than $9,470 in donations, far surpassing its original $2,500 goal.
In an update Tuesday, the fundraiser organizer, Tommy Marler, posted that the landlord “reluctantly gave back the door,” sharing a picture of the door displaying a “Merry Christmas” wreath.
Later Tuesday, McGee posted an image of herself and her daughter, writing, “Tonight we are able to Celebrate and We couldn’t be happier. Thank You.”