Renter’s rights: What you need to know if you have storm damage

HOUSTON – Tamika Thomas is just one of the thousands of Houstonians living a wet, watery nightmare right now.

The water pipes above her bedroom burst open inside the home she is renting and now she is wondering who is going to fix the pipes and all the water damage.

“I was upstairs and all I heard was this big whoosh! I’m like what happened and all of the sudden I see all of this water pouring down,” Tamika said.

If you rent an apartment or a house or a condominium, it’s your landlords legal responsibility to fix the damage.

It’s your job to act quickly and notify your landlord of the problem right away to limit the damage done.

“Texas law requires the landlord to fix issues that result as a consequence of a natural disaster, especially those that threaten the health and well being of the tenants living in that home”, David Sadegh with Lone Star Legal Aid said.

David Sadegh is a lawyer specializing in landlord/tenant relations and he has this advice for you to get your landlord to take quick action.

  • Step One: Call your landlord immediately to report the problem.
  • Step Two: Back that call up with a written letter detailing the damage and send it via certified mail.
  • Step Three: Take pictures and or video to fully illustrate the problem.

You should know that the law requires the landlord to take action quickly, usually within seven days.

And if your landlord refuses to make repairs or fails to take action, you should send a second letter detailing the problems and then you may have to take legal action.

Attorney David Sadegh says you can file a case in Justice of The Peace Court.

“Yes, you can file a repair and remedy case at the Justice of The Peace Court and if you have given your landlord sufficient notice of the problem and the damage to your place, you can get a hearing before a judge.

You do not need to be a lawyer and the judge may order the landlord to make the proper repairs to your home”, Sadegh said.

If you don’t know what to write to your landlord regarding the damage to your rental home or apartment, Lone Star Legal Aid has a free sample letter you can use as a template. It’s available now on the organization’s website.

Something your landlord is not responsible for is providing alternate housing while repairs are made. If have renter’s insurance, you should contact your insurance company to inquire about getting a hotel room or another place to stay.

About the Author:

Emmy-winning investigative reporter, insanely competitive tennis player, skier, weightlifter, crazy rock & roll drummer (John Bonham is my hero). Husband to Veronica and loving cat father to Bella and Meemo.