ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- The pandemic has been tough on many renters. It's also been tough on many landlords.
An Illinois man who spoke to News 4 said his tenants are taking advantage of the state's eviction moratorium and also making threats against him in the process. Wayne Staten of Gillespie provided cell phone video of two tense encounters between himself, and his tenant Cole Waugh.
Staten says both videos show the threats he's endured while trying to collect unpaid rent from Waugh.
"The man has threatened me more than once," Staten told News 4. He added Waugh and his girlfriend Judy Wilkins haven't paid rent in the 17 months they have occupied the mobile home.
"With everything with COVID going on, lost a lot of work," Waugh explained. I have my own business and everything and it's gone down to nothing."
According to the Illinois Attorney General's Office, Waugh's business has been the focus of a lawsuit. In 2018 the Illinois AG filed suit against Waugh alleging his business took down payments ranging between $4,000 and $20,000 from consumers but failed to complete the work. The AG got a judgement against Waugh in 2019.
Waugh also said he performed work on the property in lieu of rent.
"He's not telling [Staten] the fact he owes me $3,800 from the git-go, that goes to rent and that would give me a whole year of living there."
Staten, though, says Waugh hasn't performed any work on the property and, "I offered him work on the property to cut down trees to cut down on rent. He refuses to do anything."
Waugh's girlfriend Judy Wilkins sent an email to News 4 about Staten.
It reads in part, "90 percent of what Wayne Staten says is made up for a no good reason other than he's a foolish and insecure psychotic stalking freak!" and "I'm not about to pay some psychopath to make my life a living hell. We have been living without basic essentials due to his retaliatory/misconduct for approximately 6 months."
"We went to court four, or five times," Peggy Allan said. "In all, gave them 7 eviction notices." Allan is Waugh and Wilkin's previous landlord. Allan rented Wilkins the house directly next door to her home in Benld, Illinois.
She said Waugh was never on the lease, but he moved into the property with Wilkins. At one point Allan says the police were called to the property and Waugh nailed the doors shut.
"Eventually he hid in the basement, that's where they found him," she said.
Allan says the couple owed thousands in back rent, and also did thousands in damage as they moved out of the home. Allan said he took faucets and pipes from the home.
"While I totally understand renters need to be protected against unscrupulous landlords, but the pendulum has swung at least in this case way too far to the other side. We landlords are victims," Allan said.
Wilkins and Waugh agreed to meet in a city park in Gillespie, Illinois to discuss the issue on Friday, May 7. Neither showed up at the agreed upon meeting time. Staten provided a police report showing his mobile home was searched by police in November 2020.
According to the report, officers found "drug paraphernalia" inside the home. Staten says the police investigation was enough for him to obtain an emergency eviction order against Waugh, but it did not apply to Wilkins. Staten says Waugh still lives in the home.
A week ago Waugh told News 4 he and Wilkins plan to leave the home. Wilkins also told News 4 she blames Staten for issues related to the furnace and broken AC units. She also accused Staten of breaking off keys in the lock to prevent her from going inside the home.
Staten is asking the governor's office to intervene in cases like his.
"I have a mortgage, I have taxes," Staten said. "I have insurance and I have a deadbeat living in my place free and that's nonsense. The governor should do something."
The governor's office confirms the eviction moratorium remains in place. News 4 has asked how long the moratorium will be in place, but has not received an answer.