Hannibal Buress raised eyebrows Wednesday when he reiterated his opposition to nationwide rent control, and then asked his Twitter followers to donate to a landlord trade association.
It's unclear if this is some kind of bizarre comedy bit.
The controversy started when the 36-year-old entertainer dismissed Bernie Sanders' calls for national rent control standards. The Vermont senator and 2020 presidential candidate has proposed limiting rent increases to 3 percent or 1.5 times the general inflation rate—whichever turns out to be higher. Sanders highlighted this issue by quote tweeting Boston resident Grace Holley:
Buress responded to Sanders tweet simply with, "Wrong." The comedian/actor then encouraged users to donate money to the Illinois Rental Property Owners Association, which has fought against rent-control legislation.
Buress' tweets garnered a wide range of responses, many of which were sarcastic and trollish. Live Science writer Rafi Letzter asked Buress what he considered to be an appropriate tip for a landlord. "20% minimum. 25% during holidays," the comedian answered.
Another Twitter user blasted Buress for selling out and hurting the very community from which he came. Buress, once again, replied with a joke.
Buress' responses have left some followers torn: Is he kidding or his he dead serious? His past interviews and podcast comments have led many to believe the former.
During a 2017 appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Buress spoke about his role as a landlord and his decision to buy Chicago units and convert them into Airbnbs. He shed light on this business move in a 2018 episode of his Handsome Rambler podcast, claiming he had "asked" the former tenants to move out so he could use the properties as short-term rentals.
"I got this building in Chicago. I bought it in July and there were tenants in it, and so I wanted to put the units on Airbnb. So I asked all the tenants to leave," he explained. "I offered them two months free rent. I never took any rent from them, as hopefully incentive for them to want to move without too much trouble."
He said everyone agreed to leave by the end of September, except for one occupant who had requested a two-week extension. Buress said he rejected the request, but gave the tenant two extra days. Buress claimed the tenant eventually moved, but did not clear out the unit.
"They left a treadmill in that shit, the refrigerator was full, there was a bunch of stuff in the room," Buress said. "And I wrote him, I said, 'Dude, that's how you're gonna leave the place?' He said, 'Sorry, you know I didn't have time to clean it out.'"
Buress continued: "'...You shouldn't have been operating as if you were gonna get the two weeks extra.' [The tenant replied] 'My bad.' I just wrote back, 'Fuck you' ... And then I ended up going back and forth roasting my former tenant."
Of course, people had a lot to say about Buress' recent tweets and resurfaced comments. Check out some of the reactions below.