How a DFW Towing Company Uses a So-Called Safety Group to Troll Your Apartment's Lot

Categories: Transportation

brentfleming_graham.jpg
Mark Graham
Brent Fleming got his car towed by Black Bull -- twice.
Pretend you busted your checking account and fell behind a few days on your rent. Would you feel safer if your landlord let a towing company take your car away?

That's the gist of an organization called the Texas Association of Safer Apartment Communities, a safety association landlords can join. A key safety feature of the group: Providing monthly parking stickers, withholding those stickers from tenants whose rent is late, and making sure that cars with out-of-date stickers get towed."Parking enforcement is an important part of our program," a TASAC flier explains.

Why would a safety association have such a tow-centric safety policy? Here's one possible answer: TASAC is run by a successful housing and tow-company lawyer whose brother happens to own an area tow truck company.

From the TASAC flier, you'd think that Black Bull Towing is just an independent "parking management company" that TASAC happens to work with. The flier also touts free eviction help from the Huhem Law Firm, "the top rated apartment law firm in Texas," another supposedly separate business.

But all three are closely related. Both the Huhem Law Firm and TASAC are run by Victor Huhem, who is the brother of Black Bull's owner, Aaron Huhem. TASAC and Black Bull share an address.

Trolling apartment complexes is big business for towing companies, but towers are legally barred from offering anything of benefit to parking facility owners -- even parking passes.

"If a towing company is providing anything to the parking facility, it's a violation of the law," says Pat Johnson, a former tow truck driver who runs the watchdog website Texas Towing Compliance and the accompanying Texas Towing Scams blog.

But since it's TASAC that's providing the benefits -- not Black Bull -- the Huhems seem to have found a way to skirt the law and cash in at apartment parking lots. Black Bull brags about being the area's biggest towing company servicing apartment complexes.

Victor Huhem, the attorney who owns TASAC and who provides the free eviction help touted in the TASAC flier, denies that he profits off of Black Bull Towing.

"My only involvement with Black Bull is to give legal counsel and representation and, of course, my dealings with it as a TASAC vendor," he told me via email.

His brother, Aaron, runs Black Bull Towing from Israel and couldn't comment, but Victor vouched on his behalf: "I guarantee you he is honest and wouldn't do anything that was inappropriate. That's why I chose his company as our TASAC vendor for parking enforcement."

The Huhem Law Firm, by the way, is award-winning: According to its web site, it "was named the top apartment law firm in 2010 by the TASAC (Texas Association of Safe Apartment Communities)."

Read more in our recent cover story, "The Kings of the Apartment-Lot Tow."

Here's the TASAC flier:

Tasacflier.pdf by Amy Silverstein


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14 comments
Dallasphotog
Dallasphotog

Now does anyone really believe that there's no sort of kickback going on with these apartment management companies.  There's entirely too much money in the pot for them to allow these scumbag tow-ers to keep all of their ill-gotten booty.


duanewmurphy
duanewmurphy

If the sticker does not say"Made in ???" we could call ICE to raid the joint.. Right?


atxbuds
atxbuds

"His brother, Aaron, runs Black Bull Towing from Israel..." riiiiiight.  

John1073
John1073

It sounds to me like the problem is with the apartment complex and not the tow company. If the complex is the one withholding parking priveleges, that is on them. The towing company is just following the law, which is their ability to tow broken down cars and cars without permits from private property that is owned by the complex. It's not the tow company's job to figure out circumstances, because they hear every excuse in the book and probably some you haven't even thought of.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Came to enjoy a slew of poorly written advocacy posts from Black Bull fans.

Leaving disappointed.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

As long as they don't change the law that allows pretty easy towing for multifamily buildings to tow people that do not belong there.  Our condo building close to downtown has assigned spots within building, a limited amount of free off street parking for guests and some off street parking owned by residents as part of unit that they can use for added car or a guest.  If you find someone in one of your off street spots, you pick up phone and a tow truck is there in 15 minutes or so to send the car away to Oklahoma or Odessa.  No fuss, no muss. 

Since we started it, we immediately had no further issues with party guests bogarting a paid spot as well as former sub-letters that left a car behind.  Fix the loophole, but do not mess with our ability to control our space.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Oh and your link to the cover story just links back to this story.  Gavin, GAVIN, fix this now!

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

All you need to see that this whole thing is a sham is the good ole eye test.  And this one fails miserably, no matter who tells you they are all upstanding people

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Is there anything sleazier than apartment managers, towing companies, and lawyers? This is like the trifecta of sleazy assholes.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@John1073

You are correct, and all of these folks are ostensibly adhering to the letter of the law in this industrious little operation. But doesn't it strike you as just a bit heartless that these apartment-complex managers are so willing to sell out the very tenants that are already having trouble paying their bills? And doesn't this cozy little Lawyer / Tow company / Apt. manager ménage à trois strike you as just a little bit unseemly?

It seems like there should be some middle ground here short of the militant policies they now seem to be employing. The current arrangement reeks of collusion.

Dallasphotog
Dallasphotog

@MikeWestEast It's one thing to tow people who take reserved spaces paid for by others.  It's a completely different thing to tow anyone who doesn't pay their rent immediately on the first.

What they are doing is a scam.

observist
observist topcommenter

@P1Gunter There's one thing sleazier than apartment managers:  apartment renters.  Not all of them - just the ones that do really sleazy stuff that makes apartment managers treat all renters sleazily.

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