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Renter rights when apartment complexes skim-by on repairs

Posted at 10:00 AM, Jun 14, 2024

CENTRAL TEXAS (KXXV) — Apartment repairs are something many of us have had to deal with. We’ve all seen repair technicians doing the bare minimum sometimes to get by.

Remember, you do have rights.

Tisheka Johnson lives with her two grandchildren at Riverwood Apartments in Temple and she said it’s been problem after problem since moving in around six months ago.

“I had a problem with my dishwasher, my garbage disposal. I had problems with dealing with bats. I had problems with my air conditioner. I had problems with my air conditioner leaking and my air conditioner’s not working" Johnson said.

Her apartment management has made temporary fixes to some issues but that’s not what Johnson signed up for when she moved in, and now she and her family want out.

“I really want to try to move out because I don’t feel like I'm supposed to have to deal with this and put up with this kinda situation," Johnson said.

Legal experts said the next steps you can take to get these issues fixed is using the most powerful tool in your tool belt — your lease.

If that doesn’t work and you want to get the law involved lives and health have to be in danger, but what you consider to be dangerous could make all the difference for you to get help.

I asked Jeff Kelly with The Kelly Legal Group what that would be based on.

"Interpretation of what someone would consider health and safety versus cosmetic?”

"Completely,” he replied.

He said not paying your rent is illegal but you could get a third party involved in the matter.

If you do this, he said there are mandated requirements like letting your landlord know about the affected conditions in writing and giving them appropriate time to fix the issue.

“I would say if you aren’t able to retain the services of an attorney find some third party that would hold it for you that you trust that would hold it for you so that you can say 'look judge I’ve paid this third party. I’m ready to pay the landlord as soon as these repairs are fixed,'" he said.

Kelly said if there’s an eviction, the Texas eviction code does not allow for the collection of the late fees that you may have accumulated and typically judges will not make you pay those fees if the case goes to court.

Click here to learn more about renter's rights from the Texas AG's office.

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