ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Like any other newsroom, KTAB/KRBC often takes phone calls from renters complaining about issues with their property management. One Abilene woman’s complaint prompted us to reach out to a local Justice of the Peace to find out what can be done.
Water dripping from the ceiling and a puddle forming on the ground is not what most people would want their bathroom to look like. This is especially true for someone who uses a cane or a walker to move around.
Amanda Winslett is a tenant at an Abilene south side apartment complex. She said her bathroom has had a leak from above since she moved in, and property managers have not done much to help. Her fear is, with her condition, slipping and falling.
“If I come in and the floor is wet, and I don’t know it because I think the leak was fixed again, or the seat is wet, and I slip and fall, they’re not going to pay a hospital bill,” said Winslett. “I’m going to survive this, but I need help.”
Although new property managers at the apartments seem to be putting in more effort, Winslett said does not know how much longer she can live this way. It’s a situation may others face with their landlords.
According to Taylor County Justice of the Peace – precinct one, place one – Judge Mike McAuliffe, renters and landlords should know their rights.
“I just need people to read their lease, because what is in their lease is paramount to what can and cannot be done on both the landlord and the tenant’s side,” Judge McAuliffe warned.
These rights can be found in chapter 92 of the Texas Property Code, which shows tenants have the right for the landlord to repair any condition that “materially affects the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant.”
A Repair and Remedy case can be filed against your landlord after you first give them proper legal notice asking for a repair, and give them seven days to make the repair.
If anyone feels as if their rights are being violated, Judge McAuliffe advised visiting the Texas Justice Court Training Center website and file against your property manager, even without representation.
“We strongly suggest to everyone; if you come to court and you don’t want to hire an attorney, get some legal advice to know what you’re looking at before you get here,” said Judge McAuliffe.
Although the judge couldn’t encourage any tenant to file, he said answers can be found on that website for those who feel as if their rights are being violated, like Winslett.
“If this story about a leak in a bathroom can make people understand that they need to treat people better, then let’s make people realize it,” Winslett added.
In order to file a Repair and Remedy case, you must also be up to date on your rent.
KTAB/KRBC also spoke with the Abilene Housing Authority, which encourages those who can afford it to contact a lawyer, if needed. We also reached out to corporate over Winslett’s apartment complex, without response.