Houston mother says she received eviction notice with smiley-face emoji

HOUSTON (KTRK/CNN) - Emojis are usually all fun and games, but not when it comes to a serious matter like an eviction letter.

That’s why a Texas mother was shocked when she received a notice to vacate with a smiley face on it.

“So you all think it’s funny to antagonize the person that’s going through financial hardship with putting an emoji stating, ‘Guess who’s moving today?’ There was nothing funny about that,” Sonja Lee said. She lives at The Steeples apartments.

There are a lot of words for an eviction notice with a smiling emoji that is waving. Lee calls it tasteless.

“I’m not going to lie. That took me by surprise. I never met a company that actually thought it was funny to put notes like that on the tenant’s doors,” she said.

The single mother of two says she lost her job in March when the restaurant where she was working cut hours. She was denied unemployment and fell behind on rent for June, July and August.

The letter goes on to say, “Pay your outstanding balance, or release your apartment and turn in your keys to the leasing office by 6 p.m. today. Eviction will be filed promptly Tuesday morning.”

“The notice wasn’t there until 2 o’clock in the evening, and the time says 6 o’clock,” Lee said.

Eviction attorney Jon-Ross Trevino with Lone Star Legal Aid says tenants must have 24 hours’ to three days’ notice before an eviction can be filed.

“This notice doesn’t have any power,” he said.

The CEO of Karya Property Management, which owns the apartments, said the manager who created this flyer was disciplined.

He said the manager created it to grab the tenant’s attention, but it was not corporate-approved and admitted it was insensitive. He said as far as they know, the flyer was only used once.

The family is also not being evicted.

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