By Miriam Cordova
On Monday, united tenants and public outcry stopped a mass eviction at Suburban Extended Stay Hotel in West Charlotte after being given a 24-hour notice to vacate the night before.
Tenants gathered outside and confronted hotel owner Nash Patel. Patel attempted to blame the eviction threat on COVID-19, claiming that someone who had stayed on the third floor and already checked out, had “tested positive” for the coronavirus.
Most tenants believe that Patel’s true intention was to convert the hotel into a field hospital by renting it out to the state. According to sources that work for Patel, he also owns the EconoLodge across the street, which had already been converted to house inmates who had tested positive for the virus. Profit motive, not any concern to contain the virus, was the true motivation behind his illegal attempt at eviction.
Patel lied to tenants as well as the media, claiming that no one had been given a notice to vacate even though it had been issued verbally to every room by an employee knocking on their doors.
While Patel was giving an interview across the street, tenants walked across the parking lot and confronted him over his attempts to shut down the laundry room and common areas. Some of the tenants came back again to confront him about his lies regarding the notice to vacate when a second news station came to interview him.
Starting Monday night, once all the cameras had left, management took other measures to coerce people to leave, such as intermittently shutting off the Wi-Fi.
On Tuesday, Patel called police to evict the woman who had originally reported management’s actions to local media and lead the charge to stop the mass eviction, a clear attempt to stifle unity among the tenants. That same day, hotel management attempted to require all tenants to sign a form pushing them to leave, stating that the Health Department was coming in and that they needed to find alternate places to stay.
Later in the week, Patel closed the public spaces on the property and threatened anyone who enters them with arrest.
The steadfastness of the tenants has, for the time being, prevented management from enforcing a mass eviction. As of Thursday, around 30 tenants remain occupying the building, many of them resolve to stay despite management’s attempts at intimidation and repression.