Flying bats aren't just Halloween props -- it's a fear one woman faces every day in her southwest Houston apartment complex.
Tristan Fruge called Local 2 after finding not one, not two, but four bats inside her apartment.
"I was terrified," Fruge said. "I don't know what they have. They might have rabies."
When Fruge moved into the Lakeside Place Apartments, she didn't know she'd have a roommate, much less four of them. The first bat she spotted was hanging from her living room wall. She called the apartment's emergency number, but when no one called back, she said she did the only thing she could think of.
"I closed all the bathroom doors, kitchen ... any door or anything that they can climb into and hide, I closed it," explained Fruge. "And then just prayed that they wouldn't come into my room or get into my room."
Maintenance removed the bat the next day, but soon another one turned up to hang out. The complex put a screen on top of the chimney, but somehow, a third and then a fourth visitor got in.
"So if they're still getting in there with the chimney blocked off, they're going to be getting in there and they're going to die in there and the smell's going to come from them decomposing," Fruge said.
While the Texas Property Code (Section 92.056) doesn't specifically mention "bats," it says a landlord must repair any condition that affects the physical health or safety of a tenant. It also gives the landlord a "reasonable" amount of time to do that, as long as they are making a "diligent" effort.
"I feel like I'm stuck in a position where I have no recourse for what I've been through," Fruge said.
Her complex did move her to a different apartment, but there is no law requiring that. If you feel your apartment has health hazards, write a letter listing your concerns. Send it certified mail and save a copy for yourself.
University of Houston consumer attorney Richard Alderman has provided the following sample letter you can send to your landlord:
City, Texas 77XXX
On (fill in date) I discovered that (state nature of problem).
This condition materially affects the health and safety of an ordinary tenant. I have in no way caused or contributed to this condition. Please repair this condition immediately. If you need more information or would like to arrange for a repair person to enter my apartment, I can be reached during the day at (phone number) and in the evening at (phone).
Thank you for your expected cooperation in this matter.
Your Name Here