Roy Gilbert

Real Estate Investors Target SA Property Owners Who Have Had Water Shut Off

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The near east side neighborhood of Denver Heights is among the targeted locations researched for water outages. House flippers in San Antonio have discovered a creative way to find properties to buy: going after homeowners who have had water service shut off.

Real estate investors are using Texas open records laws to obtain lists of people who have had their water service disconnected by public water utilities, according to information the Rivard Report obtained through an open records request. The investors then use these lists to generate sales leads.

Between July and and mid-September this year, the San Antonio Water System received 84 requests under the Texas Public Information Act for lists of customers who have had water service disconnected. The vast majority of those seeking records appear to be real estate investors interested in reselling existing properties. Many of them target rapidly developing neighborhoods near Loop 410 on the city’s near East, West, and South sides.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, a member of the SAWS board in his official capacity, called such marketing practices unethical and said he hopes state legislators can work to shield such information from “profit-making, predatory businesses.”

“These are people that are being deliberately targeted because they’re either enrolled in affordability programs or they’ve been disconnected,” Nirenberg said. “Just from a right-wrong perspective, that’s not right.”

Texas law considers public water utilities to be government agencies subject to disclosure requirements under the state’s open records law. The law requires utilities to provide information on which addresses had been […]

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