What can I do about my landlord being a slumlord?

Asked almost 2 years ago - Del Valle, TX

The owner of my apt/motel is a huge slumlord. There are several apts that have extensive damage, foundation issues, electrical sockets that will shock you or spark when plugging or unplugging things, peeling paint, and one of my neighbors kids has been treated for lead poisoning and not to mention two bed bug incidents in the last couple of months. There is more, but I dont have room to write it all. The owners do nothing and they ars asked about some issues they will say that they do not have time or that they will fix it tomorrow.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Benjamin Kirke Sanchez

    Contributor Level 12

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . If there are any issues in your apartment that affect the habitability of the apartment, you can either pay to fix it and withhold the rent or move out under a theory called constructive eviction. If there are other health and safety issues, file a report with the City and have them come up for an inspection.

    As usual, this answer does not constitute official legal advice and does not create an attorney-client... more
  2. Brian W. Erikson

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    Answered . Bed bugs and electrical problems would constitute a condition that materially affects the physical health and safety of an ordinary tenant. To resolve such conditions, you have to comply with the landlord - tenant provisions set out in the Texas Property Code. You cannot simply declare that you are fed up and move out. If you do, the landlord could declare you in default of the lease, accelerate all the remaining payments, and sue you for all the rent remaining under your lease.

    For a condition that materially affects the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant, the landlord is required to make repairs or to remedy the condition. To start that process under the Landlord - Tenant provisions of the Texas Property Code, specifically section 92.056, the tenant needs to provide written notice of the condition and to request repairs. When I represent a tenant, I recommend that the tenant hand deliver the notice and also send it by certified mail. If after a reasonable time, the landlord does not address/resolve the condition, or make a diligent effort to do so, the tenant would have to send a second notice. If the landlord does not then resolve the condition, or make diligent effort to resolve the condition within a reasonable time, the tenant can terminate the lease, remedy the condition and hold the landlord accountable for the cost, or pursue one of the other remedies set out in Texas Property Code section 92.056.

    You can review the Texas Property Code, Chapter 92 - Landlord - Tenant Residential Property, at the following web addresses:

    http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/SOTWDocs/...

    -Or-

    http://www.texaspropertycode.org/

    Also, the landlord cannot retaliate against a tenant for pursuing a remedy concerning defects in the premises for six months under Texas Property Code section 92.331. The tenant's remedies for retaliation are set out in Property Code section 92.333:

    "Sec. 92.333. Tenant Remedies.
    In addition to other remedies provided by law, if a landlord retaliates against a tenant under this subchapter, the tenant may recover from the landlord a civil penalty of one month's rent plus $500, actual damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney's fees in an action for recovery of property damages, moving costs, actual expenses, civil penalties, or declaratory or injunctive relief, less any delinquent rents or other sums for which the tenant is liable to the landlord. If the tenant's rent payment to the landlord is subsidized in whole or in part by a governmental entity, the civil penalty granted under this section shall reflect the fair market rent of the dwelling plus $500."

    Finally, take a lot of photos to document the problems, and write letters to the slumlord to complain so that you have some evidence that you provided notice of the problem. With the evidence you can consult with your local code enforcement agency, health department, or your local government representative for help. Perhaps the local media would be interested in the story.

    Good luck.

  3. Rixon Charles Rafter III

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . You can report them to your city/county housing code enforcement, you can terminate your lease agreement (so long as its done in accordance with Texas law), you can sue for damages, attorney fees, some percentage of your rent money back--it all depends on what you want to do, what steps you have already taken, how YOU have been impacted by what you describe (NOT how others have been impacted).

    Recommend you chat with a Del Valle landlord tenant attorney (many offer free consultations) to determine you best way ahead.

    READ THIS BEFORE CALLING OR EMAILING ME: I am licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia.... more

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