Apartment locator service has license revoked after News 4 investigation
SAN ANTONIO – An apartment locator service has its real estate license revoked after a News 4 Trouble Shooters investigation.
Agents were caught falsifying documents for people with criminal records to help them get accepted into upscale apartment complexes.
Our undercover investigation exposed what was happening at Apartments Today on Babcock Road.
Now, the Texas Real Estate Commission has taken action against the company and the real estate agent who was in charge.
In May 2017, we introduced you to a man named Johnathan who said he was unemployed with nine felony convictions. He qualified for a $1,500 a month luxury apartment after a sales agent at Apartments Today doctored paystubs and changed Johnathan’s date of birth so he could get through the management’s background check.
“And why did she want to change your birth date?” Trouble Shooter Jaie Avila asked during last year’s investigation.
“To go ahead and hide my criminal history,” Johnathan replied. “She said, ‘It will run through just fine, and none of your felonies will come up.’”
“Is that what happened?” Avila asked.
“That's what happened,” Johnathan said. “I got accepted here in less than, probably about an hour or two."
When we sent an undercover photographer into Apartments Today, another sales agent offered to help conceal our criminal record and even make a paystub to help us qualify.
“We can help you, guide you, do stuff to help you get approved,” the agent said.
Later, the agent added: “We can help you get to where you need to be. We have the, we can make you the stubs or something like that.”
Now, the Texas Real Estate Commission has issued a disciplinary order revoking the real estate license for Apartments Today and suspending the license of the broker in charge of the business.
The order says broker Carl Zuniga “failed to properly supervise” nine sales agents who “either falsified or helped the tenant falsify the lease application documentation or the tenant’s background information in 41 transactions.”
In a statement to the Trouble Shooters, Zuniga wrote: "The unscrupulous actions that were performed by agents when this story first aired 20 months ago have long been rectified. Those said agents were immediately terminated and have had no affiliation with Apartments Today Inc. Contrary to popular belief, the Texas Real Estate Commission is not shutting down Apartments Today Inc. Rather, we look forward to our continued growth and proceeding with offering unparalleled customer service."
We spoke to the Texas Real Estate Commission about Zuniga’s claim Apartments Today will continue to operate. The commission’s order does shut down the business, which will not be able to operate after its license is revoked January 31.
Apartment locators get large bonuses for finding tenants to fill vacant apartments, but many complexes will not accept applications with felony convictions or who can’t prove enough income.
Tenants like Johnathan also lose out because when they can’t afford their lease, they fall deeper into debt and their rental history is further damaged.