TAYLOR COUNTY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – More evictions are now being seen across Taylor County in a post COVID-19 pandemic world. One Abilene landlord was left with thousands of dollars worth of damage after an angry tenant destroyed her home.
When tenants rent a home, property managers often expect slight property damage known as wear and tear, which happens after being lived in for a while. However, landlords typically never expect their homes to be completely destroyed by a tenant.
Blanca Cortez is an Abilene landlord who lives in Odessa. She was letting her grandson rent her home from her, and said he hadn’t paid his rent to Cortez in two years.
Finally, Blanca said she had to evict him. Then, she said she heard rumors that he was going to ‘do something’ to her house. A Taylor County constable and her leasing agent went to the home to see if had left yet.
“She [leasing agent] calls me and goes, ‘We’re here with the house and he destroyed it,’” Cortez recalled.
In the once charming home, tiles were torn up, cabinets torn down, and even kitchen backsplash was ripped from the walls. It was the bathroom that had the most damage, though, complete with a missing sink and toilet.
A difficult decision to make, Cortez is pressing charges against her grandson.
“I feel that I’m all in my right to do what I’m doing,” explained Cortez, “because he didn’t have to get that extreme.”
A part of Taylor County Constable, Dwight Kinny’s, job is serving eviction papers. He told KTAB/KRBC it’s rather rare for tenants to completely destroy a home like this, but it does happen.
“We get them every once and a while,” Constable Kinny explained. “We’ve even had some where, mysteriously, a fire was started in it.”
Even though they aren’t always this bad, Constable Kinny explained that he’s seen more evictions lately. He said it’s his hunch that these evections are being doled out because people are having a hard time paying rent after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During COVID, the state said that you couldn’t evict people,” the constable said. He also added in that current inflation rates have made it more difficult for people to pay their bills now.
This year, Taylor County has already reached more than 1300 evictions, less than 300 away from surpassing last year’s. Constable Kinny said the county is now dealing with – on average – two or three evictions per day. Meaning, Taylor County will probably pass last year’s number of evictions very soon.
Constable Kinny detailed a matter of tension between landlords not being able to allow tenants to live rent free, and tenants not being able to pay.
However, Cortez said she now wants to encourage other landlords to be mindful of who they let live in their homes – even family.
Cortez’s leasing agent’s husband was working on an estimated cost of damages when KTAB/KRBC last spoke with him. He said he assumes damages could cost up to $20,000 to repair.