A landlord in New York City went viral this weekend after posting a TikTok video of her joking about stealing tenants' packages because they were behind on rent.
Abbe Awosanya posted the now-deleted video for her 6,000 TikTok followers to see, but the video took on a life of its own when it reached Twitter.
This is why we are eating landlords first when we dine on the rich pic.twitter.com/0jVAVoJh9a
— Your gay dad ???????????? (@xanderthepander) May 2, 2020
As Awosanya danced to the song "Skechers" by DripReport, she posted captions on the video saying, "My tenant is late on rent and is avoiding me but has money to order. So I take all their packages until they pay up" and "I'm so petty."
The video blew up on TikTok with 200,000 views but has now garnered millions of views on Twitter and Instagram with people criticizing Awosanya for stealing from her tenants because they were unable to pay rent during an economically catastrophic pandemic.
Thousands of others said that beyond the cruelty of stealing someone's packages, which may have been essential, it's a federal crime to steal another person's mail.
She refused to speak to BuzzFeed when contacted by the news outlet, saying the entire thing had been overblown.
"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. Nothing to do with current tenants. If my tenants told me they couldn’t pay, I would understand. My tenants have been late before. 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 wrote in a message to a BuzzFeed reporter.
She said she would not be deleting the TikTok because "it's already out there," but since the BuzzFeed story was published, she has deleted it.
Awosanya also sent out a short statement defending her actions through her Twitter account, which has since been deleted. She apologized for the joke and said she would never actually steal anyone's packages.
the tik tok landlord really turned on night mode to say she’s suing someone for tweeting about her and is making her tenants “available to testify” pic.twitter.com/A6UI8tZ5W5
— cointel proana (@ennuiboy420) May 3, 2020
Awosanya allegedly threatened to sue Haaniyah Angus, a 21-year-old student in Oxford, England, who was one of the first people to post the TikTok video to Twitter, Yahoo News reported. Awosanya said people were now harassing her and that she has filed a police report.
Angus has since deleted the tweet with the video because of a barrage of hateful comments, but she told Business Insider that someone claiming to be Awosanya was threatening legal action against her.
"With regards to your post made about my skit, Legal action is being taken. Consulted with my attorney and filed a police report with evidence of aggravated harassment without real cause or verification of truth," the message said, according to what Angus shared with Business Insider.
Angus spoke about the situation more on Twitter.
So apparently the woman who made the landlord video is taking legal action against me for posting that tiktok she made.
A) I did not contribute to people contacting her work or sharing any personal info.
B) I am a broke college student in the United Kingdom. pic.twitter.com/tl4NWYQkpJ
— communist ronald mcdonald (@haaniyah_) May 3, 2020
A debate has raged across the country about whether people should be required to pay rent as the economy tanks because of measures to protect people from the coronavirus.
While some people came out to defend Awosanya and other landlords, most of the comments focused on the need for property owners to show compassion during an unprecedented crisis.
Lawmakers have called for a rent freeze, and the state of New York has unilaterally suspended all evictions until July.
But protesters are now calling on New York City and the state to put a rent freeze in place that would alleviate the financial pressure on millions of New Yorkers. Some are even threatening a rent strike.
— Leon ???? (@iamleonmallett) May 1, 2020
The one-time payment of $1,200 from the federal government did little to help people struggling to get by in high-priced places like New York City.