NARRATION: Landlord Sandra Stanley quickly began feeling the impact of the pandemic.
SANDRA STANLEY (SPEAKING TO TENANT): Hi George, I’m here I’m just checking on you to see if you need anything. How’s it going?
GEORGE (TENANT): I’m good.
NARRATION: She and her family own eight rental properties around the Dallas Fort Worth area.
SANDRA STANLEY (TO GEORGE): Thank you for the partial payments, and just continue to communicate and talk to me.
SANDRA STANLEY (DALLAS-FORT WORTH LANDLORD): Local landlords have up-close-and-personal relationships with their tenants. We know our tenants. We know their children. We know what’s going on with them and their situations.
Over the course of the pandemic when I had to work with people with their rent, we did OK paying our mortgage that we had on it but we did have struggle with paying our taxes.
SANDRA STANLEY (SPEAKING ON THE PHONE): Hey Steve, this is Sandra, I was wondering, did you get to find a solution to the AC problem at all?
SANDRA STANLEY: We have to take care of the properties regardless of if we get paid or not. We had AC repairs, we had a plumbing problem, all that money has to come out of my pocket, so I went into my retirement and got the money to pay the taxes. And my brother he had a savings, he had to go to his savings.
In my lifetime of being a landlord, I’ve had to do at least three evictions, probably over 30 years. We try to work with people and charge low rent so they can pay their rent. I’d rather have somebody pay their rent than have eviction. I hate doing evictions.
NARRATION: Throughout the pandemic, the people on the frontlines of carrying out evictions in Texas were deputies from the local constable offices.
JACQUELINE LUNDY: My name is Jacqueline Lundy. I work for the Dallas County Constables office, precinct five.
JACQUELINE LUNDY (SETTING UP HER PHONE NAVIGATION): I’m gonna put in my first address.
JACQUELINE LUNDY: When I’m driving out to the location, I kind of try to run some scenarios in my head: OK, if they’re not at home, fine. But if they are at home, what is my next step? What am I going to do? How am I going to approach it? You don’t know what state of mind they’re in. We’re in a pandemic. People have lost their jobs, whatever home life that they have going on. Their emotions could be high.
Sometimes – it’s, you kind of are sensitive to the situation. You just kind of have to compartmentalize the sad part of it. It is sad. I think for me, I would prefer if they were not home, but it’s a roll of the dice when they are at home, and if they are at home, it tugs at you if there’s kids involved because it’s not their fault that they’re being displaced. But for the most part, it’s about safety. You don’t know who’s behind that closed door so it’s an unknown and an unknown is going to be a threat.
NARRATION: Deputy Lundy was on her way to evict a man who had been illegally occupying a vacant house for months.
JACQUELINE LUNDY: Just open the door.
DEPUTY CONSTABLE: We need to speak with you out here.
JACQUELINE LUNDY: Open the door, we’re going in.
DEPUTY CONSTABLE: Oh, he has it locked, he locked the door.
DEPUTY CONSTABLE: Listen, we don’t have time for all this. I got court order.
JACQUELINE LUNDY: Hey! Hey!
OCCUPANT: That doesn’t have my name on it.
DEPUTY CONSTABLE: You need to open the door.
OCCUPANT: He did not give me a read to writ. I have never met that man before in my life.
JACQUELINE LUNDY: Give him something to open the door.
DEPUTY CONSTABLE: Let’s discuss this outside. We need to get you out of the house.
JACQUELINE LUNDY: Yes, something to pull the door.
OCCUPANT: I don’t have a weapon on me.
DEPUTY CONSTABLE: ‘Cause don’t know what you got inside the house. Open the door.
JACQUELINE LUNDY: Open it, open it, get in there, get in there.
OCCUPANT: I ain’t worried about no five-oh. I’m packing my s—. You come in and help me. I’m packing my stuff.
JACQUELINE LUNDY: You need to step out.
OCCUPANT: I’m getting out my belongings.
JACQUELINE LUNDY: You need to step out.
OCCUPANT: I can’t get my clothes?
JACQUELINE LUNDY: Uh huh, step out. Let’s go.
OCCUPANT: Don’t touch me man.
DEPUTY CONSTABLE: Taking everything out of the house. Taking everything out of the house. Saque todo de la casa.
JACQUELINE LUNDY: Put everything right here in the front yard, all the furniture.