TEMPLE, Texas — Alexa Brooks works in Temple and lived at the Village at Meadowbend Apartments in Temple until last weekend. She said her air conditioner had been out for nearly two weeks. When the landlord finally fixed it on Aug. 25, Brooks said it broke again two days later. She said she had to move.
“The management and maintenance and living conditions there are unbearable and I just could not tolerate it any longer,” Brooks said.
Brooks told investigative reporter Andrew Moore that the apartment complex required two months notice and management told her she would have to pay two months rent, which is more than $1,000.
Managers at the complex refused to go on record Tuesday and instead referred Channel 6 to the Cesar Chavez Foundation.
Does Texas law provide Brooks any protection in her current situation? 6 News looked at her contract, and Texas renters rights, to find out.
"Texas law requires landlords to make a diligent effort to repair problems about which they have been notified and that materially affect the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant. Examples of items that materially affect the health and safety of an ordinary tenant are sewage backups, roaches, rats, no hot water, faulty wiring, roof leaks,and, sometimes, a lack of heat or air conditioning. If the problem violates a provision of your city’s building, health, or fire code, then it is more likely to be considered a health or safety risk."
Texaslawhelp.org explains the process of compelling landlords to make repairs. If the landlord still does not respond, the site says tenants have the option of terminating the lease and are better positioned to go to court.
The tenant must ask the landlord for repairs in a way that creates a record they can use later on. Here is the process, according to Texaslawhelp.org:
1. Make sure you pay your rent on time so that your landlord can’t try to evict you instead of making the repairs.
2. Take pictures of the conditions that need repair.
3. Give written notice to your landlord about the repairs. If you send it certified mail, return receipt requested, you only need to do this once. Otherwise, you will need to send a second notice. Be very specific about the repairs needed. Keep a copy of the written notice and of the pictures.
4. Give the landlord a reasonable time to make repairs, at least 7 days, unless the repair need is urgent and requires a quicker response (for example a roof leak or sewage overflow).
If the repairs are still not made after the time expires, the site says a tenant may give written notice about why the lease is being terminated and the date the unit will be vacated. Tenants may also ask for a refund for rent already paid for the days the tenant won’t be there and the tenant is entitled to a refund of the security deposit.
More information can be found in the Tenant's Rights Handbook.
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