TEMPLE, Texas — For months, tenants have claimed they are living in dangerous and dirty conditions at The Brooke Apartments in Temple.
The conditions were so brutal that one veteran spoke out to 6 News on Friday, June 23, hoping to push for change. Instead, Rahsaan Betton says he is now getting backlash from the complex.
Betton says he received a notice of a lease violation after the story first aired last week.
"I got a notice two hours after the cast was telling me that it was notifying me that I had an unauthorized tenant living with me, which wasn't true," Betton explained.
"I looked at this as retaliation," Betton added.
The veteran says he hasn't lived in his unit for months because the conditions have been so unbearable. It's a place he can no longer call home.
"The place just looks like a warzone," Betton said. "I've been to places that didn't look this bad. That was a warzone. I haven't been staying here because the unit is it's unlivable. It's uninhabitable. I can't breathe."
This all comes after a fire broke out inside of his unit in January due to poor wiring, according to Betton. To this day, the unit still smells like smoke.
Betton shared with us the following voice message left from ClearWorth Residential in regards to his current status.
"You have to be out by June 30 and that if you stay past that you will be responsible for the rent."
From fires, to A/C problems and mold, Betton says he has had enough, causing him to take matters into his own hands.
On Tuesday, the founder of LoneStar Mold Testing, Lance Neidigk, came out to assess the living conditions inside the unit. The results will show what type of mold is in the unit and what the indoor air quality is, overall determining whether or not it is safe to live inside.
"What we want to see is that the indoor air quality be equal to or better than the outside control depending on what type of mold and what levels will determine whether it's safe to be in the home," Neidigk.
Lone Star Legal Aid Managing Attorney, Rachel Kunath, described how repairs are tricky when it comes to Texas laws as they are not favorable to tenants. Landlords are only required to make repairs to things that affect health and safety.
"If there's a big hole in the floor, or if there's mold or if the door doesn't close, you know, things that are pretty obviously affecting someone's safety, then that is something that a landlord would be required under Texas law to repair," Kunath said. "I think it's surprising to a lot of people that air conditioning is not necessarily one of those things."
Other tenants who wish to stay anonymous at the complex say they haven't had A/C for months. Betton even had to purchase a portable air conditioner.
Betton is taking legal action with the help of Lone Star Legal Aid. Kunath says when it comes to evictions, the judge has the final say on whether or not the tenant has to move out.
"Just because your landlord gives you a letter, or tells you to move out or sends you a text to move out, that doesn't mean you have to, you could always challenge that in court to see if the landlord can prove their case," Kunath said.
ClearWorth Residential says they recently took over the property but are actively working to fix the complex.
6 News will be doing a follow-up with the results from the mold assessment consultant. We will also reach back out to management again.
"I'm trying to do this fight because whether I'm a veteran or not, whether you're just a normal person, a normal American just trying to live and work and pay rent and pay your bills, stuff like that, you shouldn't have to deal with things like this in order to survive," Betton said in conclusion.