As the coronavirus has pushed unemployment to near Grear Depression levels, millions of Americans are unable to pay rent, placing small-time landlords and their tenants in a battle of the wills on what’s fair, as both sides’ livelihoods are at stake.
There’s been plenty of debate about landlords’ and tenants’ rights, but New York City real estate agent and comedienne Abbe Awosanya’s attempt to humorously add to the conversation landed her in the center of a social media firestorm.
In the 30-second clip, Awosanya dances to the door and picks up several Amazon packages allegedly addressed to a tenant who can’t pay rent, but still finds time to shop online.
“My tenant is late on rent and is avoiding me but has money to order,” Awosanya wrote on captions placed throughout the video. “So I take all their packages until they pay up. I’m so petty.”
Instead of getting kudos and laughs, Awosanya’s comments section quickly filled with users calling for her arrest and that she be fired from positions at Northwell Health and Keller Williams Landmark II.
“Paying rent of $800 to $1,500 (based on where I live) versus ordering something cheap on Amazon. Have sympathy, there’s a whole pandemic,” wrote TikTok user Kelly Aguiar according to a screenshot by Buzzfeed News. “What if it’s their baby’s formula? They have $20 for it but not for $800 in rent?”
“It’s ok to be late during a pandemic,” wrote another user. “It’s illegal to withhold their packages. It could be anything, especially if they have children. This is so wrong.”
On Twitter, I’Nasah K. Crockett’s tweets with Northwell Medical and Keller Williams’ contact information gained traction with more than 1,200 retweets and 8,600 likes. In the comments, Crockett asked users to report Awosanya to both companies.
“Her full name is Abimbola Awosanya. Here’s her LinkedIn page with all her work details,” it read. “She’s a licensed realtor with Keller Williams Real Estate.”
Awosanya has scrubbed her social media presence, including the referenced LinkedIn page, but earlier today, New York State’s Occupational Licensing System showed her license as current. However, at the time of publishing, Inman could no longer locate the license.
Awosanya’s Keller Williams agent page is still live, but Awosanya’s name is no longer searchable via the brokerage’s roster as of May 4.
Inman reached out to Awosanya and Keller Williams Landmark II for comment, but they have yet to reply.
In an exclusive interview with Buzzfeed, Awosanya said the video was a joke and the packages were hers.
“Honestly, in the past, I had this issue with other tenants and I wished I could do this to them because they were blatantly ignoring me,” she said in a written statement. “Nothing to do with current tenants.”
“If my tenants told me they couldn’t pay, I would understand,” she added. “My tenants have been late before.”
“… I know there are people on both sides,” she continued in reference to the tug-o-war between some tenants and landlords. “I have a few jobs that sustain me. I don’t rely on anyone’s rent money.”
“But if I’m paying for the roof over your head, it’s my business,” she concluded.
In an updated version of the video shared by MailOnline and included above, Awosanya added a final slide to the video apologizing: “As a comedian, I get to depict society in humorous ways, taking on various characters and making skits. Looking back at that skit, I realize it was a bad joke. I would never tamper with anyone’s mail, all those deliveries are mine. I’m so sorry to have upset so many people, this is a sensitive time for many and I’m in it as well. Apologies once again.”