U.S. House subcommittee accuses San Antonio landlord of wrongfully evicting tenants during pandemic

The report says the owner of San Antonio's Siegel Suites used hardball tactics to push out tenants protected under the pandemic's federal eviction moratorium.

click to enlarge In one of the report's most dramatic exhibits, an email from a Siegel Group executive directs the manager of its San Antonio apartment complex to replace a tenant's air conditioner with a broken unit in the middle of May. - Google Street View
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In one of the report's most dramatic exhibits, an email from a Siegel Group executive directs the manager of its San Antonio apartment complex to replace a tenant's air conditioner with a broken unit in the middle of May.
A San Antonio apartment owner used "troubling and potentially illegal" tactics to evict tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic while receiving millions in federal loans, according to a congressional investigation released Thursday.

The new report from the U.S. House's Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis accuses Nevada-based The Siegel Group — owner of the Siegel Suites on San Antonio's East Side — of using "uniquely egregious" tactics to push out tenants protected by a federal moratorium adopted during the global health crisis.

In one of the report's most dramatic exhibits, an email from a Siegel Group executive directs the manager of its San Antonio complex to replace a tenant's air conditioner with a broken unit in the middle of May, threaten to tow the tenant's car or even call Child Protective Services to hasten their departure.

Representatives of The Siegel Group were unavailable for immediate comment on the report.

Siegel was one of four corporate landlords investigated by the subcommittee between March 2020 and July 2021. Of the four, it was the only one the Current could confirm had Alamo City property holdings.

Although Siegel collected more than $2.3 million as part of the Paycheck Protection Plan, which was forgiven in its entirety, the report accuses the company of trying to carry out evictions knowing that the federal eviction moratorium protected its tenants.

In the May 21, 2021 email sent to the manager of San Antonio's Siegel Suites, Senior Vice President of Operations — Siegel Suites and Siegel Select Mike Tisdale encourages the manager to use hardball tactics to push out at least one tenant. Tisdale is no longer listed on the company's website as an executive.

"I want to make sure that we are doing everything possible to make sure this person leaves before then," Tisdale said in the email contained in the report. "Understand I do not know anything about this person, so I am just going to go down my list of things to make sure you have tried everything possible to get rid of them."

Some of Tisdale's suggestions include calling Child Protective Services if "there's any kids in there," threatening to call animal control on the tenant's pet and posting a fake eviction notice on the tenant's door after 5 p.m. so that it would be too late in the day to confirm its authenticity.

As noted in the subcommittee's report, false reports of child abuse or neglect are felony criminal offenses in Texas.

"Despite the company's participation in rental assistance programs, documents also show that Siegel evicted dozens of residents who had submitted rental assistance applications that had not yet been approved, showing the company participated in these programs for financial benefit but did not necessarily use the programs as an alternative to eviction when inconvenient," the subcommittee wrote.

Siegel initially told the subcommittee it didn't have a centralized system keeping records of evictions, according to the report. The document alleges that Siegel eventually submitted evidence showing that it tried to evict just two tenants in the properties it owns in the six states outside of Nevada and Arizona.

However,  the report said the subcommittee eventually was able to identify more than 774 eviction actions by the company.

The House panel is referring its findings to the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for further investigation, according to the report.

What's more, a Texas Department of Family and Protective Services representative told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that an investigation is underway into whether Siegel Group group filed false reports of child neglect in the Lone Star State.

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