PERRY, Ga. — For years, Fox News host Sean Hannity has poured his fortune into a surprising side venture: a vast portfolio of rental properties in working-class neighborhoods. He described those holdings in compassionate terms when they came to light last month, saying he invests in places that “otherwise might struggle to receive such support.”
But a Washington Post analysis shows that managers at Hannity’s four largest apartment complexes in Georgia have taken an unusually aggressive approach to rent collection. They have sought court-ordered evictions at twice the statewide rate — in a state known for high numbers of evictions and landlord-friendly laws — and frequently have done so less than two weeks after a missed payment.
Property managers at the complexes sought to evict tenants more than 230 times in 2017, court records show. At one, a 112-unit subdivision in a suburb west of Atlanta, 94 eviction actions were filed last year, records show.
Among the tenants Hannity’s property managers sought to evict, records show, were a former corrections officer and her wife, who fell behind while awaiting a disability determination; a double amputee who had lived in an apartment with her daughter for five years but did not pay on time after being hospitalized; and a single mother of three whose $980 rent check was rejected because she could not come up with a $1,050 cleaning fee for a bedbug infestation.
Some of the court files include notes showing that sheriff’s deputies removed residents. More often, though, tenants who were taken to court avoided eviction by paying their past-due rent along with hundreds of dollars in late fees and other costs, records show. The Post found that property managers repeatedly filed eviction actions against many of those residents.
Told of The Post’s findings, three experts said the pattern suggests that the threat of eviction is being used not just to remove tenants but also to generate revenue.