SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Roach infestations, mold and broken security doors, leading to homeless encampments. Those are just a few of the issues that low-income tenants are facing living in various properties in Sioux Falls owned by Tzadik Management.

Miami-based, Tzadik Management, which owns more than $1 billion in properties nationally, bought up $20 million worth of properties in South Dakota, including 22 Sioux Falls apartment complexes. But ever since Tzadik came in, tenants are complaining about horrible living conditions.

Even though Tzadik got $3 million in PPP loans, KELOLAND Investigates found plenty of evidence of rundown, unsafe and often disgusting properties here in Sioux Falls.

Our cameras were invited onto three Tzadik properties by tenants who wanted to show us the conditions they are living in. A Facebook group called The Tzadik Management Experience has more than 700 members and you can probably tell by the Facebook group cover photo what many of them are complaining about.

Facebook group of tenants in Sioux Falls

Mayfair Apartments

When Danielle Odens moved into her very first apartment at Mayfair, she wasn’t expecting to have to share it with cockroaches.

“They were everywhere. They were in our cupboards, all over the floor, the living room, the bathroom. It was just disgusting and we didn’t have anywhere else to go. We were just stuck,” Odens said.

“Stuck,” because they were young, didn’t have any credit history and no one else would rent to Odens and her roommates. They complained to the City.

“One of our inspectors went out and did a formal inspection and they’ll put the course of action required by Tzadik, and they’ll make sure they follow through with that,” City of Sioux Falls Neighborhood Revitalization Manager Matt Tobias said.

Once the City got involved, Odens says Tzadik sent an exterminator.

“There was less of a problem, but it was still there, for sure,” Odens said.

After two years, Odens was finally able to move out.

Arnold’s Park Apartments

Justin Gawell says moving is not an option for him because he has a drug felony on his record. He pays more than $700 a month for his apartment at Arnold’s Park.

“It was either the streets or move in with this company, because like I said, there is just nowhere for anyone who has made bad choices in their past,’ Gawell said.

While we were in his apartment, he showed us the roaches.

Gawell: Behind my stove, I found a nest had actually eaten the firewall of the plug on the stove out, which in itself is just a fire hazard.
Kennecke: Did it ever get resolved?
Gawell: No, I’ve actually placed multiple work orders and the company told me roaches were not considered a maintenance issue.

Roaches KELOLAND Investigates found in Gawell’s apartment

Tzadik Management denied KELOLAND Investigates an on-camera interview. They did tell me in an email that they contract for preventative pest control at the three complexes we visited and that they’ve been doing full building “clean-outs” on top of regular maintenance for the last two years.

However, roaches aren’t the only issue in Gawell’s building. He and other tenants pointed out that security locks are broken. They say that’s causing homeless people to camp out in the basement laundry room and use this bucket as a toilet.

“You can literally just walk in and out of any apartment complex and it’s supposed to be a secure facility,” Rinder said.

In its email, Tzadik tells KELOLAND Investigates that it was continuously replacing the security doors at its complexes, but residents would kick them in or prop them open, damaging the hinges and doors. Tzadik says after replacing the security doors multiple times, it installed regular exterior doors as a solution.

Zach Rinder shows us his broken garage door at Arnold’s Park Apartments

Zach Rinder lives in a neighboring building at Arnold’s Park and says Tzadik was the only company who would rent to him because he has a previous eviction. He says the company is not responsive when it comes to repairs and points to the garage he also rents.

Rinder: The door fell on me completely. I had to go to the ER and everything. I called the management and about a half-hour later they were there and said, ‘We’ll have somebody fix it.’ A month and a half later it’s still broken, hanging halfway down. I’ve lost $500 to $1,000 worth of stuff out of there because I can’t really move it.
Kennecke: People stole it?
Rinder: Yes, because it’s completely wide open and there are supposedly security cameras on the building.

Rinder believes the security cameras are just for show and points to evidence of illicit activity in the complex.

Needle on ground at Arnold’s Park Apartments

“Not only is there a lot of garbage around here, but there’s also a bunch of drug dealing that you see outside at 2, 3 4 o’clock in the morning. There’s a bunch of needles all over the dumpster. If you go in the back of our garages, there’s nothing but old papers, garbage, trash, needles–it’s not a nice place to live,” Rinder said.

Calls to police from Arnold’s Park have more than doubled since Tzadik took over the properties, jumping from 25 calls in 2018 to 60 in 2021.

Not every problem is a code violation

The city says a lack of security is not a code violation, but this broken garage door is.

“If there is a broken garage door, we want to find out about that so that we can get those things addressed,” Tobias said.

Last year, Sioux Falls code enforcement responded to 9,000 complaint calls about property maintenance throughout town, but only a small number of them involved those owned by Tzadik.

“We have a pretty good rapport with the regional managers from Tzadik and the property maintenance staff from the city and they seem to address it pretty quickly,” Tobias said.

Tobias says tenants may not know to take their complaints to the city if they aren’t getting resolved by the landlord.

North Cleveland Apartments

Molli Johnson, who is pregnant, with her fiance and youngest child, who live at North Cleveland Apartments.

“I would like to see them step up and actually care about their tenants and our complaints because I can make a complaint and nothing ever happens,” Molli Johnson said.

Johnson took us on a tour of the Tzadik property she lives in on North Cleveland Avenue, where she pays $875 a month. While Tzadik says it hires someone to clean once a week, we saw graffiti, trash, holes, broken radiators and security cameras that clearly weren’t working.

Security camera pointing down at North Cleveland Apartments

Johnson: We have no security doors here. They are supposed to be, but there isn’t.
Kennecke: What’s the problem with that?
Johnson: Unfortunately, we’ve had lots of fights here. We’ve had actually a murder happen outside our front door.

Police say it was the result of a drug deal gone wrong.
Police calls to the North Cleveland Apartments have jumped from 47 in 2018 to 110 in 2021.

“I’ve had a homeless woman sleeping outside my front door and I’ve had to call the police because she urinated on herself and I had to take my daughter to the bus at the same time,” Johnson said.

Mold is not a violation

However, it’s what’s happening inside her apartment that she’s concerned about the most.

“I have children and mold is a big risk for my pregnancy, my children’s health, my fiance’s health. And it wasn’t just in one spot. It was actively spreading around the bathroom. We tried to get them to come in and it took them a year to come in and start fixing our bathroom, ” Johnson said.

“Mold is challenging because in the state of South Dakota we do not have any indoor air quality standards. What we do when we get a mold complaint is we will respond to that complaint and try to see what’s causing the mold,” Tobias said.

Johnson’s bathroom ceiling

Johnson says she didn’t know she could complain to the city and will take that step now because there are still holes in her bathroom ceiling.

“They need to be held responsible for what they aren’t doing, but they need to actually upgrade their security and do what they said originally in the lease–you’ll have a secure facility, your garages, your property is safe, but yet when it actually comes down to it, none of it is true,” Rinder said.

Tzadik says it spends thousands on security

In its email to KELOLAND Investigates, Tzadik said it uses Stealth Monitoring and pays for 24/7 security camera monitoring. Annually, Tzadik says it spends nearly $23,000 a year for security at both Rinder’s and Johnson’s complexes.

Tzadik tells KELOLAND Investigates that it used its millions in PPP loans to retain its more than 200 employees.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Tzadik Management Group for refusing to waive $100 monthly late fees for a Georgia tenant who paid rent with disability benefits, which arrived late in the month.

As for the three properties we visited, Tzadik emailed KELOLAND Investigates a breakdown of the investments made to them since 2018. Tzadik says it spent more than $3 million on upgrades and maintaining the properties. You can read Tzadik’s entire email response below:

Tzadik Management continues to invest resources to correct any issues that its residents may have in order to keep the properties up to Tzadik’s quality standards. Tzadik has contracts in place for preventative pest control at Arnold’s Park, Mayfair Apartments and North Cleveland Apartments and has been doing full building “clean-outs” on top of regular maintenance for the last two years.

At all three properties, Tzadik was continuously replacing the security doors, but residents would kick them in or prop them open, which would damage the hinges and bend the door. After replacing the security doors multiple times, Tzadik installed regular, exterior doors as a solution to this issue.

All three properties have weekly cleaning in the common areas by a vendor that Tzadik has worked with for two years. The cleaning includes waste pick-up, window cleaning and vacuuming/mopping of the interior hallways. 

If residents are having any issues, they are directed to fill out a work order with their complex immediately so that the work order can be completed as soon as possible and not cause any further issues. 

Arnold’s Park

Since Tzadik Management acquired Arnold’s Park in 2018, the company has spent over $1.5 million on the 162-unit property for updated garages with new siding/replaced doors, roofing, sidewalks, boilers, foundation repairs, parking lot maintenance, interior common areas paint/flooring, boiler replacement, upgraded units, plumbing, electrical, safety (CO detectors were installed in all units), landscaping, upgraded interior/exterior lighting and more. Within the last 12 months, Tzadik has spent over $136,000 in repairs and maintenance, and over $26,424 in pest control. For security, Tzadik uses Stealth Monitoring and pays for 24/7 security camera monitoring. Annually, Tzadik spends a total of $13,142 for security.

Mayfair Apartments

Since Tzadik Management acquired Mayfair Apartments in 2018, it has spent over $500,000 on the 48-unit property for the parking lot, interior common areas paint/flooring, HVAC replacement, upgraded units, plumbing, electrical, safety (CO detectors were installed in all units), landscaping and more. Tzadik spent over $49,000 in the last 12 months on repairs and maintenance and has spent $8,385 on pest control.

North Cleveland Apartments 

Since Tzadik Management acquired North Cleveland Apartments in 2018, it has spent over $593,000 on the 48-unit property for updated patios/balconies, a new playground, parking lot maintenance, interior common areas paint/flooring, boiler replacements, upgraded units, plumbing, electrical, safety (CO detectors were installed in all units), landscaping and more. Tzadik has spent over $48,000 on repairs and maintenance and $8,707 on pest control in the last 12 months. For security, Tzadik uses Stealth Monitoring and pays for 24/7 security camera monitoring. Annually, Tzadik spends a total of $9,792 for security.

All three properties are part of a “Second Chance” program and are felon-friendly between the time of the conviction, ranging from 0-3 years. Tzadik does not allow violent offenders, but thinks it’s important to provide housing to those who otherwise may not be able to find it elsewhere with more strict background criteria. 

Tenant resources:

  • To learn more about your rights as a tenant, click here.
  • To learn more about the code enforcement in Sioux Falls, click here or call the Code Compliance Officer at 605-367-8613.
  • To report property maintenance concerns, contact the City of Sioux Falls Property Maintenance at 605-978-6900.