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Trump, Landlord from Hell

How was Donald Trump as a businessman? Well, most of his business has been buying and selling real estate. Things he did as a landlord might be indicative of how he treats people and how he might act as president.

In 1981, Trump purchased a 14-story building facing Central Park in New York City. His plan was to demolish the building and replace it with luxury condos. The only problem was that there were tenants in the current building with leases. They were rent stabilized, so he couldn’t just raise the rent to get rid of them.

Trump’s first step was send out “lease violation” letters to the tenants. The previous owner had given tenants permission to renovate their apartments, including moving interior walls. Trump reversed that permission and gave the renters 10 days to replace the walls or face eviction. The tenants hired a lawyer and according to documents at least some of the lease violation notices were put on hold.

So what did Trump do next? He cut off the tenants’ hot water and heat in the middle of the winter. He stopped all building repairs. He let the service elevator fill with garbage, and then ordered tenants to use it instead of the main elevator. He did nothing about a rodent infestation.

Trump also sued a tenant for not paying rent, even though he had paid it. A judge blasted Trump for his “spurious and unnecessary” lawsuit according to an article in the New York Times.

But Trump kept up. The building superintendent swore in court that Trump’s building managers ordered him to not do anything for the building: no repairs, no cleaning, not even any accepting of packages. Apartments developed water leaks. One leak went unrepaired for 10 months; so long that mushrooms started growing in the carpeting. The building managers also ordered the super to spy on the tenants.

Then, Trump turned really nasty. He bought several newspaper ads offering to shelter homeless people in the apartment building, in order to get the last of the tenants to move out so he could demolish it. Trump claimed “I just want to help with the homeless problem.”

Trump may dish it out, but he doesn’t seem to be able to take it. In 1973, the US Justice Department sued Trump Management Corporation for racial discrimination (Donald Trump was the company’s president). Trump was charged with quoting different offers to tenants based on their race, and lying to blacks that apartments were not available:

According to court records, four superintendents or rental agents confirmed that applications sent to the central [Trump] office for acceptance or rejection were coded by race. Three doormen were told to discourage blacks who came seeking apartments when the manager was out, either by claiming no vacancies or hiking up the rents. A super said he was instructed to send black applicants to the central office but to accept white applications on site. Another rental agent said that Fred Trump had instructed him not to rent to blacks. Further, the agent said Trump wanted “to decrease the number of black tenants” already in the development “by encouraging them to locate housing elsewhere.”

Donald Trump’s response was to hold a press conference and call the charges “absolutely ridiculous“. He even took the bizarre step of suing the Justice Department for defamation (asking for $100 million in damages). He also called up the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division and demanded that they fire the lawyer handling the lawsuit against him. But a judge dismissed the suit filed by Trump (accusing Trump of “wasting of time and paper”), and Trump ended up settling the suit against him.

Apparently, Trump did not live up to the settlement, because three years later the Justice Department sued him again for the same thing. And on top of that, the New York City’s human rights commission started investigating Trump’s discriminatory rental practices. Trump complained to the New York Times that the investigation against him was a “form of horrible harassment.”



  1. ebdoug wrote:

    You aren’t going to mention Fred Drumpf’s apartment building on Long Island where he wouldn’t rent to blacks? This before we had anti discrimination against this?

    Woody Guthrie wrote a song about this.


    Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 4:01 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    Eva, click on the link just above the big quote (which starts with “quoting different offers”). That’s almost exactly the same article as you linked to (and where the big quote comes from).

    I left old man Fred out of it because there was plenty of direct evidence against Donald. One does not have to go out on any limbs to show that Donald Trump has done racist things.

    Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 8:56 am | Permalink
  3. ThatGuy wrote:

    Huh, well, I guess we can put to rest any notion that Trump just plays a racist on TV.

    Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 9:09 am | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    Thatguy, ironically, another plausible theory is that Donald Trump is not actually a racist. He does these things solely because they might increase his wealth. Or to put it more bluntly, he is a self-aggrandizing narcissist with sociopathic tendencies who has absolutely no empathy toward others and no sense of morality.

    Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 9:20 am | Permalink
  5. Mark wrote:

    Are you all aware of this video doco on Mr Trump?

    If you havent time for the whole movie, just watch the trailer

    Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink
  6. Ralph wrote:

    No disrespect, and do appreciate the grisly details despite suffering from Trump over-exposure fatigue, but this is just more of the same we’ve come to expect and know all too well about Trump’s M.O. Reminds me of a monkey at the zoo; scream loudly and long, throw tantrums of feigned indignation, liberally fling copious amounts of your own shit around and some it is bound to stick. Who care what others may think? It’s all about me, Me, MEEEE! Make a-ME-rica great again!

    His trademark book should have been titled “The Art of the Raw Deal”. It’s the same smoke and mirrors he’s been peddling to the entire country for months. Fortunately, at long last, it finally appears to be unraveling of its own accord as his shit hits the fan and not a minute too soon as we approach the primary home stretch.

    Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink
  7. PatriotST wrote:

    You know, the longer the Trump candidacy goes on and the more I read and internalize, the more I believe this theory.

    I don’t think Trump ever thought he would be leading for this long in the race, or that he ever really thought he’d have a chance at the nomination. I think he got into the race for self promotion, picked a few subject talking points, trash mouthed just about anyone. I think he wanted to make some waves to improve his business and stature. I don’t really think he ever wanted to be President and was as surprised as everyone has been by Teflon Don persona. He doesn’t prepare for the tough questions and outside of business discussions actually knows very little. I think deep down he wanted somebody to surpass him and come in a close second.
    What’s more I think he is actually trying to come in second, because no one actually trying to win would keep coming up with some of the awful stuff he says. I think his ego keeps him in the race, but down inside he wants out.

    Would somebody, anybody, please grant him his deep desire.

    Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 6:00 pm | Permalink
  8. Ralph wrote:

    PATRIOTST – I think you’re spot on there, always thought from the start it was a vanity run. Bill Maher put it rather well recently when he said, and I paraphrase, “Trump doesn’t actually want to BE a President, what he really wants is just to be called President.”

    Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 9:56 pm | Permalink
  9. Iron Knee wrote:

    He should buy an island somewhere and create his own country so he can be called whatever the f he wants.

    Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 10:10 pm | Permalink
  10. ThatGuy wrote:

    IK, certainly agree he might be just as caustic to everyone not named Donald Trump regardless of race; but I think an important corner is turned when you go from advocating racist policies to actually having implemented them. At that point, it doesn’t matter if you’re seeing dollar signs or racial bias: you’re a racist.

    Of course, I’d argue that advocating for racist policies to gain attention/votes probably also turns the corner from “being some semblance of a decent human being.”

    Monday, April 4, 2016 at 9:52 am | Permalink
  11. Iron Knee wrote:

    So, if you treat everyone horribly, regardless of race, does that mean you aren’t a racist? 🙂

    Monday, April 4, 2016 at 1:47 pm | Permalink
  12. ThatGuy wrote:

    It does! You might be a jerk, but you’d be fair about it.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 6:49 am | Permalink
  13. Hmm wrote:

    Nah, only if you treat everyone equally horribly.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 8:27 am | Permalink