Sigma Alpha Epsilon House Corp. files suit over property rights

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) Texas Rho House Corporation has filed a lawsuit against a group of five other alumni, claiming to work on its behalf. The dispute? Who owns the property on Pearl Street where the house is located.

Back in November, KXAN reported SAE suspended its University of Texas chapter following hazing complaints. The national organization said it made the decision after it received tips about behavior that does not live up to its values. The suspension will last until the current membership has graduated or at least four years, whichever comes first.

So the question became, what to do to protect the property and those living within it? The plaintiff is asking for a declaratory judgment to settle who is in charge of the property.

The petition states, “A genuine issue of dispute exists between Plaintiff and Defendants because Defendants have falsely represented to others and continue to falsely represent to others that they are the members of the board of directors of the SAE House Corporation and Defendants have purported to take actions of behalf of the SAE House Corporation.”

The SAE House Corporation is seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the defendants from acting on behalf of the SAE House Corporation until further Court order. That means not entering into any contracts or leases involving the fraternity house property.

“We want to make sure the property is preserved and taken care of and protected,” said Kemp Kasling, the plaintiff’s attorney. He added that they also want to make sure that applies to anybody on the property.

Right now, Kasling says no one is living in the house. Once the chapter closed, the fraternity house property was no longer covered under a general liability policy. Both parties agree there needs to be a policy to cover the property before anyone moves back in. The goal is to get that in place by the time students return for spring semester, mid-January.

A major concern mentioned in the suit is the defendants alleged intention for former SAE members to continue to “conduct fraternity rush in the fraternity house, recruit and allow new members to join their ‘local fraternity or society'” and host parties in the house, despite SAE members at the UT chapter being suspended.

Both parties want to see the chapter reinstated, Kasling said. They just need to decide what’s the best way to get there. Now, with the help of a judge.

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