Single Mom Struggling To Pay Rent After Losing Her Job Flees Her Home After Getting A Disturbing Text From Her Landlord

She's not the only one — other women have reported similar incidents from their landlords who take advantage of their financial situation.

Gail Savage Instagram

A single mother was struggling to pay her rent after losing both of her jobs. One evening, she received a strange text from her landlord. 

After clarifying what he meant by the message, the woman packed up all of her stuff, took her child, and fled despite having nowhere else to go. 

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many people were out of work and were unable to meet their monthly payments. 20% of American renters did not pay their April rent before May 6, 2020—and many others failed to pay it at all. Due to this, some renters reported being pressured by their landlords to pay through other methods, which left many of them uncomfortable or homeless. 


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The disturbing text from the woman’s landlord asked her for sexual favors instead of money. 

29-year-old Gail Savage lost her job as a bartender at an Indianapolis cocktail bar at the start of the pandemic. Her gigs working as a burlesque performer were also put on hold when the state shut down. Savage was struggling to provide for herself and her two-year-old son, Salem, and to meet her monthly rent requirements, something that her landlord decided to take advantage of. 

After exchanging text messages with her landlord about how she was waiting for the federal stimulus check to arrive to cover her April rent, Savage was surprised after he asked her to get a ride and “stay all night” with him. Confused, Savage asked her landlord what he meant, assuming he intended to send the message to his girlfriend. After he clarified that the message was indeed for Savage, she pressed him to provide more details. “I don’t understand what you mean. Stay where?” she asked. 


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“Stay with me tonight…get a shot of that,” her landlord replied. As Savage came to the realization of what he was implying, she was horrified.

“Are you asking in a sexual way?” she asked him. “Yes,” her landlord wrote back. At that moment, she knew she had to flee. “The second I figured out it was happening, it was the craziest thing: I put Salem in his car seat and walked out the door,” Savage told BuzzFeed. “I was like, ‘I don’t know where I’m going, but I can’t stay.’ I was scared.” 


Savage’s situation is unfortunately one that is not uncommon, especially for women living in low-income communities. During the pandemic, there was a dramatic increase in incidents where landlords attempted to coerce their struggling tenants into “sex-for-rent” agreements. In Hawaii, the state’s Commission on the Status of Women reported 10 complaints of sexual harassment by landlords filed by tenants over the first couple of months of the pandemic. 

Sheryl Ring, the legal director of Open Communities, a legal aid and fair housing agency in Chicago has also seen an increase in sexual harassment cases involving landlords and tenants.

“Since this [the pandemic] started, [landlords] have been taking advantage of the financial hardships many of their tenants have in order to coerce their tenants into a sex-for-rent agreement — which is absolutely illegal,” she says. 

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Savage hoped to pursue legal action against her landlord, who allegedly owns multiple properties.

As of May 2020, nothing had been filed, but Amy Nelson, the executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana told BuzzFeed that they are “assisting her [Savage] in understanding what her rights are under the law,” she says. 

Savage says she was forced to live in the home for a month after her landlord’s unwanted advancements due to her financial situation. “He knows I don’t have a job. He knows I don't have anywhere to go — he’s preying on me,” she said. 

Her landlord later claimed that the text messages were a “joke” and a “misunderstanding.” He alleged that he had been texting with his ex-wife while he was texting Savage and got the two confused. 


Luckily, one of her real estate friends was able to find Savage a two-bedroom property with a backyard and adjusted the price to match what she was able to pay in rent. As for her landlord, she leaves him with a warning: “He picked the wrong person because I'm equipped for this. I’m not going to allow him to do this to me or anyone else.” 

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.