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Landlord told property manager to make Texas tenant miserable so they’d move, email shows

A corporate landlord wanted a tenant in Texas gone, and ordered the manager of a San Antonio property to harass them into leaving — using a variety of strategies as cruel as they are creative, a government report shows.

In an email to management of the Siegel Suites, 3855 N. PanAm Expressway, a number of strategies are laid out, including replacing the woman’s functioning air conditioner with a broken unit, having security knock on her door “at least” twice every night, and disabling her TV from outside using a master remote.

The email was sent by a senior vice president of operations with a Las Vegas-based company called The Siegel Group, according to a recently released U.S. House subcommittee report, which includes the email in question.

“I want this person very uncomfortable sitting in our room for free,” the executive wrote.

Siegel is one of four corporate landlords named in the report — along with Pretium Partners, Invitation Homes, and Ventron Management — each accused of engaging in abusive and deceptive practices against their tenants during the coronavirus pandemic.

The four groups submitted nearly 15,000 eviction filings, mostly while a moratorium on evictions were in place, according to “Examining Pandemic Evictions: A Report on Abuses by Four Corporate Landlords During the Coronavirus Crisis.”

But the House investigation found Siegel took things further, and “used harassment tactics … to push tenants out of their homes without filing formal eviction actions,” the report said.

McClatchy News has reached out to The Siegel Group for comment.

The executive also suggested telling the tenant that, if management knocked on her door and she wasn’t there, they would call animal control to “come pick up her abandoned pet.”

The most extreme strategy recommended that, if children lived at the unit, to call Child Protective Services to visit the woman’s apartment.

It is a felony in Texas to file false reports of child abuse or neglect, the House report points out.

“Understand I do not know anything about this person,” the executive said in his email. “I am just going down my list of things to make sure you have tried everything possible to get rid of them.”

The executive’s wording suggests these harassment tactics may be tried-and-true for Siegel, established protocols “employed across the company” for getting rid of unwanted tenants, the report says. If so, the San Antonio woman may not have been the first tenant targeted for harassment, and browbeaten into leaving.

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