A Growing Problem: Motel Crime at Struggling Properties

For better or worse, motel properties have always had to fight against stereotypes that they are places where sketchy things happen. 

Most motel owners and managers work hard to provide a safe, clean environment for their guests. However, as the lodging industry struggles due to the pandemic, some properties have become the ideal environment for shady and illegal activities.

Understanding the Effects of COVID-19 on Motels

The hospitality industry as a whole has been affected by the pandemic. The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) released data in August 2020 that explored the significant impact of COVID-19 on hotels and motels, including: 

  • 9 out of 10 hotels have had to lay off or furlough employees.
  • Less than 25% of AHLA members were back to 60% of their pre-COVID staffing levels by August, and 29% were still at or below 20% of their usual staffing numbers.
  • Many hotels and motels are facing foreclosure due to the financial strain of the pandemic.

A lot of this is the result of the massive reduction in domestic and international travel from 2020 to 2021. The air travel industry was down by 60% last year, and that’s a pretty big indicator of what hotels and motels will experience. 

Motels that were already operating in economically struggling areas are having even more trouble now. With fewer guests, rooms are empty, payroll is under-funded, and motel managers have to make hard decisions to stay open. 

Growing Crime at Struggling Motel Properties

In order to stay open, some motels have lowered their standards significantly. They have also lowered their rates to try to attract travelers and visitors, which means rooms may be filling but with less income. 

There is also an issue where managers are turning a blind eye to guests who are taking part in illegal activities because they feel like the only way they can stay open is to tolerate risky and unsafe behaviors from their guests.

Types of Criminal Behavior Associated with Struggling Motel Properties

In January 2021, a story broke about a motel in Bakersfield, California, that was the site of numerous crimes, including sex trafficking. The motel’s owner and one of its employees have been accused of “running a brothel in plain sight,” and they have been arrested. They are allegedly responsible for kidnapping and selling countless sex trafficking victims. 

The stories that allegedly took place at the motel are shocking: missing teenagers, a baby that was allegedly kidnapped, a young girl with her pimp’s nickname tattooed on her face, and teenagers being trafficked for sex and drug use. 

Tragically, this story is not a one-time thing. Motels have been hotspots for certain crimes, especially during times of economic uncertainty. 

Here is a list of criminal behavior that is unfortunately linked to struggling motel properties:

Our Communities Are Hurt by Crime at Distressed Properties 

When abandoned, distressed, and struggling motel properties become hot-spots for crime, it doesn’t just hurt the people involved in those crimes. Of course, we should all be concerned about the victims of these crimes. But, it is also important to point out that this type of activity causes our communities to suffer as well.

Property values decrease. Lower crime rates mean higher property values, and the reverse is true as well: areas with lots of crime see reduced overall property values. If your residents and business owners live or work near a motel where illegal behavior is occurring, it is going to negatively affect real estate in your community. 

Children suffer. Many of the victims and perpetrators of these crimes have children. These kids are in our schools, community centers, sports programs, and more. They deserve a safe and trauma-free childhood. When any child in our community suffers because of the illegal behaviors of their parents and guardians, our whole community suffers. 

Health and safety risks increase. Living or working near a high-crime property increases risks to the community, including exposure to things like meth labs and illegally owned guns. As city officials, you have a responsibility to keep your community as safe as possible. 

Concerned About a Distressed Motel in Your Neighborhood? A Receivership Can Help!

If you are concerned about the impact of a struggling motel in your city or town, it may be time to consider a receivership. 

In emergency situations, the court can appoint a receiver to take operational control of a business like a struggling motel in order to mitigate risk and protect the community. Receivers like Richardson “Red” Griswold step in to manage troubled real estate assets, including motels and failed developments. 

Griswold Law Receiverships focuses on nuisance and drug activity, slum motels and apartments. Our priority is to put a stop to illegal behaviors in the properties for which we are responsible. 

To learn more about having a receiver appointed to take control of a dangerous property in your area, reach out to Griswold Law Receiverships today.

  • There are no suggestions because the search field is empty.


See all

Recent Posts