Above photo: Civvl. Company website.
Million struggle to pay rent.
A startup company by the name of Civvl is seeking to recruit temporary “gig” workers to assist landlords in evicting tenants who have been unable to pay rent in the midst of the economic depression triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Civvl is owned by OnQall, a developer that provides a platform for a number of other app-based services. However, Civvl is markedly different from the other apps, some of which are used for house-cleaning and mowing lawns.
The startup, described by VICE News as “Uber, but for evicting people,” has posted ads across the US looking for gig workers to join eviction crews to assist in what the company’s website calls “debris removal.” In other words, it is hiring people to clear out the possessions of evicted people.
Like opportunistic vultures, the company’s owners seek to take advantage of an economic crisis in which millions are unemployed and cut off from federal assistance. Desperate workers—in many cases struggling to pay rent themselves—are now to be utilized by the startup to evict other struggling people for the purpose of turning a profit.
The startup’s own website declares it to be the “FASTEST GROWING MONEY MAKING GIG DUE TO COVID-19.” The website assures its clients that “Civvl gets them out!” amid photos showing furniture and other possessions being hauled out into the streets with police standing by.
As Civvl’s Craigslist ads explain, “Unemployment is at a record high and many cannot or simply are not paying rent and mortgages.” It continues: “We are being contracted by frustrated property owners and banks to secure foreclosed residential properties. … There is plenty of work due to the dismal economy.”
Amid a stream of bad press, the company adjusted the language on its website to indicate that it does not, in fact, carry out the evictions. However, this appears to be contradicted by the fact that among the positions listed is that of “process server,” a person who would be contracted with serving court documents and posting eviction notices on properties. Other services include that of “eviction standby.”
As for the legality of the evictions, the company makes clear in its terms of service that it is merely carrying out the dirty work of the landlord, who assumes all legal responsibility.