Since launching in December 2020, Landlord Watchlist Project (LWP) has received over 100 submissions from tenants across the Commonwealth. According to Eviction Lab, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have seen over 4,900 and 3,900 eviction filings since March 15, 2020, respectively. While Eviction Lab has not reported eviction filings for other Pennsylvania cities, LWP recognizes that the housing crisis and the rapacious behavior shown by landlords affect tenants in all counties. The eviction crisis affects tenants regardless of age or whether they resides in a rural, suburban, or urban community. Over 400,000 PA households are at risk of eviction and the latest available data shows that PA tenants owe $958 million in back rent. The tenants disproportionately at risk of eviction are largely low-wage workers, BIPOC renters, undocumented immigrants, women, and families with children.
Tenants who submit to LWP, do so via an online form (or an in-person form, if applicable). A member of our team contacts tenants to do a second formal intake for accuracy. Tenants are asked to self-report their risk of eviction. LWP then connects tenants with appropriate resources and uses their testimony in conjunction with public court filings, online reviews, and other publicly available data.
LWP has found that many landlords and property management companies have gamed the system during a time of crisis, receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in COVID-relief funding while continuing to displace PA families. For example, landlords have received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA), even though “passive businesses” which are “owned by developers and landlords that do not actively use or occupy the assets acquired or improved with loan proceeds” are generally not eligible for the federal COVID-relief aid. This abuse of corporate welfare is evident in the landlords we have highlighted today as part of our first Landlord Watchlist publication.
Below you will find three landlords/property management companies from Central PA, Allegheny, and Philadelphia, who have filed to evict Pennsylvanians during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Harrisburg Property Management Group (Dauphin)
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Harrisburg Property Management Group (HPMG) has continued to evict and mistreat its tenants. HPMG has filed over 140 landlord/tenant cases since April 1st, 2020 in Dauphin, Cumberland, and Lebanon counties. They have been one of the largest evictors in Central Pennsylvania during the pandemic. LWP has received information from HPMG tenants and Harrisburg-area tenant organizers showing a slew of evictions over unpaid and late rent. LWP continues to connect tenants to housing organizations and critical resources, preventing further evictions in Central Pennsylvania.
HPMG owns and manages over 2000 properties throughout Central Pennsylvania. The property management company was founded and is owned by Ryan Colquhoun. During our research, we found that HPMG is owned by Fusion Asset Management LLC. Fusion Asset Management LLC received two PPP loans: one in April 2020 for $233,500 and a second loan in January 2021 for $227,153, totaling $460,653.
JJ Land Company (Allegheny)
JJ Land Company, a Pittsburgh-based property management company owned by Jeffrey Weisband, has continued mass evictions during the pandemic. The property management company owns and manages rental properties throughout Allegheny County. LWP has received information and tenant testimony regarding JJ Land Company’s negligence and their predatory behavior including raising rent, making tenants’ homes uninhabitable, and evicting tenants during the pandemic. Public reviews show that JJ Land Company has demonstrated patterns of property neglect and disregard for their tenants. JJ Land Company currently has over 100 properties on record, making them one of the largest landlords in Southwest Pennsylvania. In May 2020, Jeffery A. Weisband received an $85,500 PPP loan from the SBA, for the leasing of his non-residential properties.
Powelton Properties (Philadelphia)
Powelton Properties, owned by Sheldon Schwartz, is a property management company operating in the Philadelphia metro area, primarily serving Drexel, Penn, and Temple students. Schwartz has already been identified as a predatory landlord by the Philly Tenants Union. His mailing address is located in Lexington, Massachusetts, not Philadelphia. In addition to evicting tenants during the pandemic, LWP has received multiple tenant testimonies regarding Powelton Properties for pest infestations, dangerous repairs, cut-off service, neglected properties, and charging unjust fees.
If you have a predatory landlord or property manager, you can submit them to our list by accessing our form. You can also access our resource database here. Please reach out to us with any questions or comments.