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Here's how a Property Manager Abused Her Position to Siphon off Rent From Tenants

According to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, Shatina Howell allegedly stole $56,412 from tenants.
Cover Image Source: Managers | Photo by Alena Darmel | Pexels
Cover Image Source: Managers | Photo by Alena Darmel | Pexels

Rent is getting expensive and a large number of young people are finding it hard to secure accommodation in major cities. In such trying times, realizing that your rent payments aren't reaching the landlord despite clearing them on time could be even more stress-inducing. In a case brought by the Manhattan District Attorney, Shatina Howell, a former property manager who oversaw multiple apartment buildings in Harlem, is accused of embezzling over $56,000 in rent from vulnerable populations, including low-income individuals, the elderly, the disabled, and veterans, who were recipients of rental assistance.

Image Source: Photo by Kindel Media | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Kindel Media | Pexels

According to the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Jr., Howell faces two counts of grand theft and one count of conspiring to defraud others. The charges stem from allegations that Howell received 141 money orders from approximately 60 tenants.

Evidence from testimonies and official records reveals Howell's employment history, indicating she commenced her role as a property manager with a company in January 2019. By May of that year, she was tasked with overseeing the Ennis Francis Apartments, comprising two buildings located in Central Harlem on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard and West 123rd Street.

These apartments provided housing for tenants receiving rent assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher program, commonly known as Section 8, which enabled them to stay there at a reduced cost.

Image Source: Unsplash|Photo by Viacheslav Bublyk
Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Viacheslav Bublyk

Between May 7, 2021, and August 5, 2022, Howell stands accused of unlawfully obtaining rent money orders from tenants, altering them to designate herself as the recipient, endorsing them, and depositing the funds into two personal bank accounts under her control.

During this period, the company she worked for had adjusted its rent payment policy due to the pandemic, permitting tenants to remit payments directly to the property management office.

Exploiting her rapport with residents, particularly those facing medical challenges, Howell allegedly deceived them into believing she would facilitate the submission or delivery of their rent money orders to the management office, but was instead pocketing the payments.

Image Source: Photo by Karolina Grabowska | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Karolina Grabowska | Pexels

Howell assumed the role of property manager overseeing three properties in a special project situated in Central Harlem, spanning from West 112th Street to West 145th Street, starting in May 2022.

Among these properties, two offered subsidized housing to tenants benefiting from housing assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher program, while the third belonged to the Mitchell-Lama program, which provides affordable rental housing to low- to moderate-income families.

According to the district attorney's office, Howell allegedly received money orders intended for rent and parking fees, and instead of using these funds for their designated purposes, she purportedly altered and diverted them into her personal bank accounts.

Image Source: Pexels|Photo by Alex Green
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Alex Green

The district attorney's office estimates that Howell misappropriated approximately $56,412 throughout this scheme.

Addressing the impact of Howell's actions, Bragg emphasized the breach of trust, saying, "Shatina Howell supposedly took advantage of tenants in the buildings she managed, breaching their trust and keeping money meant for rent. She misused her position to exploit older adults, veterans, and disabled individuals."

The district attorney advised individuals who suspect they may have fallen victim to similar fraudulent activities to contact the Housing and Tenant Protection Unit at 212-335-3300 or via email at