A congressional house subcommittee today published a report accusing Siegel Group executives of violating COVID-19 eviction moratoriums and harassing and pressuring their tenants.
The report was on the heels of an ongoing investigation, since last year, and a letter sent last week to the company by the chair of the house subcommittee.
“Certain large landlords have also reportedly engaged in practices that violate the CDC moratorium on eviction for nonpayment of rent, by evicting tenants that have signed CDC moratorium declarations, failing to make tenants aware of their rights under the CDC moratorium, or moving to evict tenants for pretextual reasons where nonpayment is the actual reason for the eviction,” Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-South Carolina) wrote last week to Stephen Siegel, president and CEO of the Siegel Group.
He also requested more information about the company’s eviction practices as part of the subcommittee’s investigation.
A representative of the company this morning hung up on This Is Reno after asking for comment on the report and allegations.
“Reports and court records indicate certain large landlords, including … The Siegel Group, have not fully complied with CDC moratorium requirements, have refused to accept rental assistance funds as an alternative to eviction, or have accepted federal funds but then moved to evict affected tenants in violation of program conditions,” Clyburn said.
The report more explicitly states:
“New documents obtained by the Select Subcommittee show that executives aimed to ‘bluff’ tenants out of their apartments by ordering that subordinates post and distribute copies of a court order holding that the CDC lacked authority to impose the eviction moratorium—deliberately hiding the fact that the court had also ordered that the moratorium’s protections would remain in effect as the case was appealed.
“Internal Siegel data show that the company evicted at least 89 tenants with pending rental assistance applications.”
This Is Reno fielded a number of complaints from Siegel Suites tenants in Reno during the first months of the pandemic.
“I was so stressed out because I’m like, first off, I’m trying to figure out just how to get through the day, like eating and stuff like that,” one resident said about living in a Siegel Suites property. “Then you guys are telling me you’re going to kick me out and I have no idea, what am I even supposed to do right there? Especially when they tell you the eviction process has been started, like that makes you think you got like three or four days to figure something out and you know that you can’t in that time.”
Cyburn said the Siegel Group operates 12,000 housing units and filed nearly 600 evictions while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium was in effect in September of 2020.
The company reportedly received $5.5 million from the federal government for pandemic rental assistance and about $2 million paycheck protection loans, according to reporting today in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“In contrast to many other landlords, Siegel’s eviction filings appear to have hardly decreased from pre-pandemic levels, despite the eviction moratoria and the availability of rental assistance,” Clyburn noted. “Although the company has maintained that it isn’t ‘evicting anyone for nonpayment of rent,’ which is barred by the CDC moratorium, Siegel has rapidly increased the share of its eviction filings that are purportedly for reasons other than nonpayment.”
Clyburn said Siegel repeatedly attempted to fight the CDC’s eviction moratorium in court. He demanded Siegel produce records detailing how many tenants his company evicted as well as the processes the company took to file evictions.
“Siegel’s eviction practices were particularly troubling and appear to have been unlawful,” the house report notes.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.