David Merryman, a 56-year-old owner of rental properties in Virginia, is being sued by Virginia’s attorney general in an $8 million housing discrimination lawsuit over his alleged racist and sexist treatment of tenants.
Indeed, he is a piece of work if you let his tenants tell it. Black folks who rent from him say he refers to them as “niggers” who should “go back to Africa.” Merryman allegedly called a white female tenant a “nigger lover” and said she should “pay your bills like other white people.”
“He most definitely was a landlord from hell,” a tenant told the Daily Beast.
The Daily Beast reports that Merryman’s properties in Southeast Virginia are worth over $5 million. He has had more than a dozen arrests over the last two decades for threats and assaults. Local city governments cited him hundreds of times for code violations and a local housing authority suspended him for dilapidated Section 8 rentals, based on city records and court filings obtained by the Daily Beast.
A lot of the complaints, mostly from Black women who rent at Merryman’s properties, made it to the desk of Attorney General Mark Herring, who said his lawsuit filed Thursday against Merryman is the first of its kind in Virginia. It is the hope of housing advocates in Virginia that the lawsuit will put slumlords on notice
Housing advocates in the told the Daily Beast the state they hope the lawsuit will set a new tone for slumlords because protections for renters in the state are few and far between.
Here is more information from the Daily Beast in which Merryman shows his ass:
When confronted with claims about a long history of using racist language towards the low-income, mostly Black tenants he rents to in Virginia, Merryman’s response to The Daily Beast is: “I used to date a Black girl.”
Merryman declined to respond specifically to horrendous things he’s accused of saying.
Bianca Wilson, a Black community organizer in Hampton who told The Daily Beast she’s known about Merryman for years, said the new lawsuit made her cry—particularly because his racist tactics were being put in the spotlight. “I am just so happy Virginia is finally taking a stance and saying, you know, we do have a problem.”
The AG’s suit against Merryman alleges that he rented “substandard” units to tenants in Newport News and promised to make repairs on the homes after they signed their lease and paid their deposit. But instead, he never made good on those promises.
When tenants complained about leaks, sewage problems, or severe structural or electrical issues, Merryman allegedly began a campaign of “abusive, racist, sexist and otherwise unlawful behavior,” the suit said. When Black tenants reported issues, the suit alleges he dropped the n-word with abandon and allegedly told complaining tenants, “that’s how you Black people act” and “that’s the problem with you Black people.”
There have been “dozens” of calls to the police by Merryman’s tenants, asking for protection after alleged instances of him threatening them, stealing property, or attempting to illegally evict them, the suit said.
The suit also claims at least one tenant has gotten a protective order against him.
The Newport News Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.
When Merryman was first told about the lawsuit by The Daily Beast on Thursday, he pushed back on the idea that he targets or harasses tenants. That is, he said, unless harassing them means trying to get them to pay back rent. He said he doesn’t target Black renters in particular, but said many of his tenants who happen to owe him money are Black.
“It just so happens I have no white people that are behind on their rent. Is that a coincidence or is that just weird?” he told The Daily Beast. “I don’t know what the pattern is called. Black Lives Matter?”
Yep. He said that.
This is a fairly lengthy article, but I’ll cap off this post with Merryman’s own words, according to the Daily Beast. He said that instead of the attorney general using the state’s resources to investigate him, he should investigate the government for allowing tenants to get rent moratoriums because of the pandemic.
“It shouldn’t take a guy who owns 90 rental houses to figure out, duh, if everybody would get back to work and if Congress would get people working, they could pay their rent and they wouldn’t be going belly-up.”
I am sure this dude voted for Trump.