This Guy's Corporate Landlords Are Ending His Lease After He Made TikToks Exposing His Poorly-Maintained "Luxury" Apartment

    "Sometimes I wake up to bats in my HVAC unit, but I pay for pet rent so I guess that's included."

    If you've looked for an apartment in any large-ish US city over the last few years, you've probably noticed more and more luxury buildings dominating rental listings. You know, the kind of places that advertise trendy amenities and have studio apartments starting at exactly twice your budget.

    exterior of a modern apartment building

    Well recently, a 33-year-old TikTok and YouTube creator known as Donny Skipper (@donnyskipper1) has been going viral for exposing just how not-luxurious living in one of these buildings can be — and his corporate landlords don't seem too happy about it.

    In one video that's been watched nearly two million times on TikTok, Skipper takes viewers on a tour of the "luxury" building, showing off various luxurious features such as a front door that doesn't always work, mysterious puddles in the hallway, two broken elevators, and, the part that ruined me, a live bat.

    @donnyskipper1

    Luxury” apartments in a nutshell: Part 1 👍 FoIIow my journey of EXPOSlNG my corporate landlord! #luxuryapartments #corporatelandlord #badlandlord #fyp

    ♬ Funny Song - Cavendish Music

    Oh, and he also mentions that he recently got a notice that they're raising the rent, because of course they are.

    In the comments, people had lots of thoughts about everything from the bat giving tenants "luxury rabies" to wondering how on earth people with limited mobility are supposed to get upstairs when the elevators don't work.

    comment saying the bat is the landlord

    But most of all, people commented on seeing buildings that look just like this in their city and across the country.

    built everywhere in the USA I guarantee they will be falling apart even more in less than 10 years

    In a follow up video that's been watched over 2.5 million times, Skipper finds a red envelope tucked into his door and takes it to a special place to open it. "My favorite spot," he says, "at the waterfront view through the windows that I've never seen get cleaned." But inside, he finds a notice that they won't renew his lease. "Just because I made some TikToks saying that there's some things that gotta get fixed at this place."

    And in the comments, people are firmly on Skipper's side.

    comment saying fix the problem no evict the tenant who talked about it yes

    Skipper told BuzzFeed that he's lived in this building with his family for three years and been a reliable tenant, but numerous problems with the facilities prompted him to start making videos. "The other week I was informed by my corporate landlord that my rent was going up 6%. In the past year a wide range of maintenance issues have come up – exploding water heaters, boards falling off the ceiling, broken elevators, garages and doors, bats frequenting my HVAC vents, and more."

    post it saying broken stuck to an elevator door captioned well I guess that's luxurious for you

    "I didn’t understand how they could justify raising rent on a unit that has not been updated in three years in a complex where advertised amenities are frequently inaccessible or removed entirely." In fact, as I was writing this piece, he forwarded me an email he got informing him that the building's pool is now closed "until further notice."

    screenshot of pool closed email

    He continued, saying, "After a year of noticing things seemed to continuously be falling apart in the complex — and a year of being dismissed by my corporate landlord — I decided it was time to share my experience. It turns out so many people out there have landlord experiences like mine and are just as frustrated about it."

    skipper giving a thumbs up and saying only four flights of stairs

    And he says that his landlords haven't directly communicated with him about his content yet. "So far they have only dropped off a letter saying they are not renewing my lease and I need to leave by May. Now we have to find a new place in a very short time frame. Anyone who follows my channel knows that I have a family — a wife and a toddler — and this corporation is forcing us out of our home. All I did was speak up about unsafe conditions."

    skipper saying I'm really happy that I got such a caring corporate landlord

    Skipper says that the response to his videos shows how much we need better tenant protections nationwide. "We can not let these corporate landlords get away with the bad things they’re doing. They drain so much out of us and then kick us to the curb when we try to hold them accountable. I’ve had neighbors and community members come up to me and thank me for sharing these videos. They don’t feel comfortable speaking up publicly about the issues, but they still want the message to get out there."

    bat hanging in a corner while skipper says I love the bats that live in my luxurious apartment

    "It’s also been great to see the social media community getting together to share advice and additional information about this problem. I’ve learned so much about the shady things these corporate landlords are getting away with. The YieldStar controversy is something that everyone should know about."

    According to this excellent reporting from ProPublica, YieldStar is a Texas-based firm whose rent-setting algorithm is one of the forces driving rents up nationwide. It's a bit of a long read, but let me tell you, it's bookmark-worthy.

    Finally, Skipper urges renters to know our rights. "If you’re a renter, look up tenants rights in your state – know your rights! Also worth considering — look into a legal insurance coverage plan. You never know if the relationship with your landlord will turn sour and it’s best to be protected."