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Jennifer Lea MacGeorge

Jennifer MacGeorge’s Answers

60 total

  • How long does landlord have to fix clogged sewage line?

    Jennifer’s Answer

    Hello, first let me say that I am sorry for what you are going through, and I hope this will help you get it worked out.

    The short answer to your question is: 7 days if you sent the written request for repairs in writing by certified mail, or two periods of 7 days after you sent two written requests for repair to your landlord by any other means (regular mail, online portal, text message, or email).

    The statute at issue for repair requests that concern your health and safety is Texas Property Code Sec. 92.056. What this statute requires a tenant to do is put in one written request for repair by certified mail, or two requests (both in writing if your lease requires repair requests to be in writing, or the second in writing if your lease is silent on this issue). After each notice for repair goes in to your landlord, the law allows the landlord a period of 7 days in which to "diligently" try to repair the health and safety condition. These requests for repair you send in must each be sent on days when your rent is paid to current. If you owe rent on the day you send the notice, then you are not entitled to repair within 7 days of that notice, and you will need to pay the rent, and send the notice again. If your landlord does not make diligent effort to repair the health and safety condition during the first period of 7 days after the first notice, you will need to send a 2nd notice on or after that 7th day AFTER the day your first notice was delivered, unless you sent the first notice by certified mail. In addition, the condition you are complaining of cannot have been caused by you, your occupants or guests (i.e. from flushing improper things, draining grease from cooking into the pipes, etc.)

    If you sent the appropriate amount of notices in writing, if your notices were sent on days when your rent was paid in full, if the notices were sent about an issue that affects your health and safety, and if the landlord failed to make diligent repairs within 7 days of your notices, AND if you did not cause the damage you are complaining of, the expressly says that you are likely entitled to the following things:
    "(e) Except as provided in Subsection (f), a tenant to whom a landlord is liable under Subsection (b) of this section may:
    (1) terminate the lease;
    (2) have the condition repaired or remedied according to Section 92.0561;
    (3) deduct from the tenant's rent, without necessity of judicial action, the cost of the repair or remedy according to Section 92.0561; and
    (4) obtain judicial remedies according to Section 92.0563."
    You can access this text here:

    In addition, the law lays out that the remedies under section 4 above are as follows:
    "Sec. 92.0563. TENANT'S JUDICIAL REMEDIES. (a) A tenant's judicial remedies under Section 92.056 shall include:
    (1) an order directing the landlord to take reasonable action to repair or remedy the condition;
    (2) an order reducing the tenant's rent, from the date of the first repair notice, in proportion to the reduced rental value resulting from the condition until the condition is repaired or remedied;
    (3) a judgment against the landlord for a civil penalty of one month's rent plus $500;
    (4) a judgment against the landlord for the amount of the tenant's actual damages; and
    (5) court costs and attorney's fees, excluding any attorney's fees for a cause of action for damages relating to a personal injury."

    If you are within city limits, I would call local code enforcement as well. See this link for a deeper explanation:

  • Am I responsible to pay for replacement blinds after living in the same apartment 9 years?

    Jennifer’s Answer

    Under the Texas Property Code, at Section 92.104, a landlord cannot make deductions from a security deposit for items of normal wear and tear. It states that a landlord can only make deductions "for which the tenant is legally liable under the lease or as a result of breaching the lease." This means that your lease needs to state that you are liable for these kinds of damages, in order to charge you for them, but, in addition to that, (and even if your lease states that you are liable) there are certain kinds of damages that a landlord is still legally prohibited from deducting from your security or pet deposit, and those are normal wear and tear.

    In your case, having had used blinds upon move in, and then living there for 9 years, there is a very good chance the blinds needed to be replaced simply because of normal wear and tear, and thus will be seen as an unlawful deduction from your deposit, or an unlawful debt collection, if you had no deposit. You can never be sure how a court will react, however, there are many factors here in your favor, including life expectancy of the blinds, full depreciation, the sheer length of your tenancy, that suggest replacement of the blinds should have been absorbed as a cost of doing business by the landlord.

    This kitchen counters are a little less clear. I can't tell from your statements whether these three spaces that need resurfacing are spaces that you damaged (even on accident), or whether they simply wore out over time while using them normally. If this is just something that wore out over time, then it is likely not something that the landlord can charge you for, because it is normal wear and tear.

    In addition to unlawful charges, you should also check the timeline for receiving notice of security deposits from your landlord in Texas, to ensure there are not any other issues that could help you get a full return of your deposit. For convenience, I have gone into a little more detail for you on video here:

  • Am I legally responsible to pay rent if my name is not on the lease when my roommate renewed the place?

    Jennifer’s Answer

    Hello, the general rule in any situation where you are receiving a benefit, good or service, even if you didn't request it, is that you have to provide fair compensation for that benefit, good or service if the other side takes you to court over it. There is an old case we learn about in law school that sums this up nicely: a man went to a restaurant for breakfast, and without asking for it, the waitress brought him a coffee. The man drank the coffee, and then attempted not to pay for it by saying "I never asked for that coffee, I thought she just gave it to me for free," and the court said sorry Charlie, you drank the coffee, which means you enjoyed the benefits of it, and in fairness, you have to pay for the coffee. It would be different if the man had left the coffee sitting on the table untouched.

    In the context of landlord-tenant law, I've stood in court on numerous occasions and seen the judge award "fair-market rent" to landlords for tenants without written lease agreements, who lived in the unit, and enjoyed its benefits. So, what I tell my tenant-clients in these situations is, if you are living in the unit, you owe rent, and the court will award the landlord rents from you. In a situation where you moved out, it is a bit different, because you are not using the rental unit (it's like leaving the coffee untouched). But, if this rent owed accrued during the time you lived there, there is definitely a possibility you can be held legally liable for the rent. It will be on the landlord to prove to the court that you lived there, and owed rent, and they won't be able to use the lease to say that you owe contract damages because you didn't sign it. It's unlikely that the landlord will try to bring you in on the suit for the lease damages simply because they aren't usually lawyers who file these lawsuits, but even if they do, they will have the uphill battle to prove that you owe them money, or what that amount of money is for "fair market rents".

    Just to clarify some confusion on your end, I want to point out that when one contract is signed by multiple tenants, the concept of joint and several liability applies, which makes each party individually responsible for the entire amount of rents owed, and also tends to make an action by one tenant, and action by all. So, a landlord can choose to sue and collect all of the amount from one person, and then person would have to turn around and try to collect some back from their fellow tenant.

  • Would filing a Motion to Vacate stop a Writ of possession order?

    Jennifer’s Answer

    A Writ of Possession cannot be stopped by payment of rents owed after the trial. Payment of rents owed means that the judgment for rent will not appear on your credit record anymore, but it does not reverse the judge's order for possession of the unit. There are actually two lawsuits taking place when a landlord files for eviction and asks for rent: 1) the eviction (forcible detainer) suit asks for physical possession of your unit, and 2) the suit for non-payment of rent asks for a judgment on the money you owe. You cannot reverse the landlord's award of physical possession by paying the non-payment of rent judgment. Your landlord wants you to move, and the court has ordered you to move. A writ of possession may only be filed if you refuse to move for 5 full days after being ordered by the court to do so, because that is the time period within which you can file an appeal. If you don't file an appeal, then your case's judgment becomes final. If you don't move out, a constable will come by and put a 24 hour notice on your door, and then will return to physically, and forcefully if necessary, remove you from the property, and pull all of your belongings outside of the rental unit. I can tell you that its a terrible experience, and I would highly suggest you try to avoid it if you can. Try your hardest to move out before the police show up, it will be so much better for you that way. I'm sorry you're going through this right now, amidst this pandemic. Stay safe.

  • My lease ends do I have to give 30 day notice to move out at the end of the lease?

    Jennifer’s Answer

    Texas law does not explicitly require tenants to give notice before moving out, while the opposite is true for landlords who want tenants out. So, the notice period tenants are held to is the notice period listed in your lease. If you don't have a written lease, then there is an argument to be made that you don't have to give notice, although it's certainly much nicer to do so, especially if you want a good referral. If your lease expired and you went month to month, check that old lease to see if it's provision carried over to your monthly tenancy. If they do, then check that notice period requirement, and see if you need to give notice. If there is a notice requirement, and the terms of your lease carry over, then you likely need to give notice.

    All of this goes out of the window, however, when you receive written notice from the landlord that they are not renewing your lease. In Texas, we've adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, which means, in very simplified terms, that text messages and emails can count as "writings" for legal notice here. So, if your landlord shot you a quick text message stating that you needed to move out, she was selling the house, that's likely sufficient to qualify as notice to your landlord. If she failed to give you the full notice period before stating you needed to move out, that would be a violation on her part, and that violation is actually written into law, so you would have a defense and cause for damages if you came to harm because you had too little time to move out. You also have cause to extend the notice period to the full 30 days, or whatever is required by your lease and the law.

  • In Texas how many days do I have to file an appeal from county court in an eviction case. Landlord furnished fake documents

    Jennifer’s Answer

    The first thing we need to determine here is whether you actually paid the rent timely, and it was just processed late, or whether you paid the rent to the court late, and it wasn't processed in time for the hearing. If you paid the rent to the court late, which is only due in non-payment of rent cases by the way, then the court literally does not have any discretion to rule in any other manner.

    The statute says: "(a-3) If a tenant files an appeal bond to appeal an eviction for nonpayment of rent, the tenant must, not later than the fifth day after the date the tenant filed the appeal bond, pay into the justice court registry the amount of rent to be paid in one rental pay period as determined by the court under Subsection (a). If the tenant fails to timely pay that amount into the justice court registry and the transcript has not yet been transmitted to the county court, the plaintiff may request a writ of possession. On request and payment of the applicable fee, the justice court shall issue the writ of possession immediately and without a hearing. " So you can see here that the court, as a matter of law could not have acted any other way, in the case of untimely payment. Because of this, an appeal would fail, as the appeals court does not give you a trial all over again, you have to file a very formal brief, and you will likely not find an attorney to help you file this brief for less than $5,000. And, the appeals court will read the above statute and rule against you, if you paid after the 5th day from the day you filed the appeal.

    Now, if you paid on time and it just wasn't processed, then this could be an reversible error, if it's apparent from the face of the record. Your appeal timeline from county court is 30 days. But if you get an attorney to help you, you can also look into filing a motion for new trial, or reconsideration from the lower judge, to ask him to change his mind. These need to be filed very quickly, so don't let time pass.

  • What can I do to get my landlord to repair my A/C??

    Jennifer’s Answer

    Hi there, I'm so sorry to hear about what you are going through! There is something in the Texas Property Code at Section 92 (for residential tenants) that allows tenants to file a "failure to repair and remedy" claim against their landlord for conditions affecting your material health and safety. So, if your rent is current, and you put in a written notice, then waited 7 days with no repair, then put in a 2nd written notice, waited 7 more days, you can file this claim. You can ask the judge to force the landlord to repair or replace the A/C in court, and to award you actual damages, plus a penalty of $500 and one month's rent for the landlord's failure. The key is that this must be a health and safety issue, so you need to convince the judge that the heat is bad for your health. Do research from reputable sites, like OSHA and etc. and print it out and bring it to court with you. Take videos of your dogs suffering, and you sweating, whatever you think will help show how bad it is. Get a thermometer and keep a video log of the temperature in the house, and various rooms.

    If you want to try a shorter route, and you are in city limits, try calling your local code enforcement department, and reporting the issue to them. Talk with the code inspector about the building codes in your city, many codes require A/C and heat to cool to specific temperatures. Find out what those are, and then let the inspector know if your property is in violation for being too hot. They will issue a citation to your landlord if they inspect and can prove your claim, and the landlord will be fined daily until it's fixed. In Austin, it's $1,000.00 per day for a homeowner who exceeds the time limits for repair, so it's usually a pretty strong incentive that gets landlords moving! I hope this helps, and gets you cool soon!

  • My guest threatened my landlord and maintenance. Now she’s evicting me on false accusations stating that the person lives here ?

    Jennifer’s Answer

    Ok, first of all, I'm sorry to hear you are going through this. The short answer is that anyone can file a lawsuit for anything at anytime, against anyone, but there are many ways to make these lawsuits unsuccessful. So, unfortunately, she can file a suit and try to evict you, but you can show up to the court and defend yourself before the judge. If she is trying to prove that you have your ex living in the home with you, she has the duty to prove to the court that this is true. Someone merely using your address doesn't prove they live there, and because he has kids who live there, it's a likely event that he does use the address for some things, so that he can get things to his kids. Who knows? The single best testimony though, is going to be yours, and if your kids are old enough to testify, perhaps your kids too. You live in the unit, you know who lives there. You can tell the judge he doesn't live there, and that you don't have any control over him using your address. You're likely required to give him your address because of the kids, and you can't keep him from putting it on documents.

    I think you just need to point out to the judge that your landlord needs far more proof to prove her case that your ex is living with you. Does she have pictures of his car being parked there overnight for days/months on end? Does she personally see him come into the unit, stay for long periods of time, return each day, etc? If she is trying to testify as to what other people told her, tell the judge that you object to the testimony about what she says other people say, who are not in the court room with you. It is called "hearsay" and it can't come in, because your landlord can't testify to any facts she doesn't know from seeing them happen with her own eyes, and she can't testify as to other peoples statements. Those people have to be in court, and make those statements themselves. I hope this helps!

  • Do apartments have to warn their tenants when using chemicals to refinish a bath tub?

    Jennifer’s Answer

    The short answer is no, unless your lease states that you will be warned before these event occur. There is no statute dealing with notice to tenants for any other reason outside of evictions, utility, and extended water shutoffs. The tenants I protect often feel disgruntled because they believe that they were entitled to receive notice before the landlord came into their unit for repairs, or wanted to receive notice of ongoing conditions in the complex that may affect them. This just simply isn't written into the law, so unless you negotiated these kinds of notices into your lease, then you are not entitled to receive notice that the landlord is refinishing a bathtub in another unit, wants to come into your unit right now, or for any other reason.

    The thing to keep in mind here is that the law is set to the bare minimum of what needs to occur in units to have happy tenants, and a thriving landlord/tenant relationship. The law is not meant to be a set of best practices for how to be a great landlord, it's only there to make sure that the very very bad ones rise to a minimum standard. So, while these types of notices are not required, unless your lease says so, the landlord probably really should let tenants know when they might experience an unpleasant condition. It's the way to keep your customers happy, and as a tenant, that's what you are, even though it often feels like a much different relationship. Good landlords do more than the minimum, and they have very full complexes, low turn-over and happier people for it, generally speaking. Bad landlords, who do only the minimum have more empty complexes, lower profits, high turnover, and grumpy people to deal with all of the time.

    Now, all of this is not to say that your landlord somehow can fail to provide you with a safe, habitable apartment. If a condition is present which affects your health and safety, then you need to put your request for repair in writing (emails and online portals count!) in order to start the repair time clock. Generally, your landlord will have 7 days from each request to repair the condition (if your rent is current), and if after two requests and two full periods of seven days your landlord has not corrected the issue, you can file suit to recover damages for the conditions present in the unit.

  • Am I supposed to give another 30 days notice after giving the first notice, but continued to reside on month to month?

    Jennifer’s Answer

    The Texas Property Code is the law that governs landlord-tenant relations in Texas. If you look to this body of law, you will find that month-to-month tenants are generally required to get a month of notice before termination. This is written in the context for eviction only, however,, meaning that the landlord must give you a minimum time before kicking you out. Since there are no statutes directly on point for when a tenant wants to leave a month to month tenancy, courts have been ruling on these issues, and are divided on whether there is a requirement that a tenant must provide the same notice. This is why your lease will almost always have a written notice requirement listed in it, because you can't be sure what will happen if you go to court.

    If the lease you signed states that you must provide a certain amount of move out notice, then you must provide that during the term of your lease. If your lease expired, and you went month to month, you need to check your lease for a carry-over provision, which means that the terms of your lease (including the early termination requirement, will apply to your month-to-month tenancy as well. If there is no paragraph that says the terms of your original lease will carry over to your monthly tenancy or holdover, then there is an argument to be made both ways here, and it will ultimately be up to the court to decide if you should have provided notice, and therefore owe rent.

    Either way it goes, there is no tenant entitlement to a "walk-through" of your apartment, so you can be denied that for any or no reason, unless your lease guarantees that in writing to you. Also, your landlord doesn't have to return or account for your security deposit until at least 30 days from your move out, and only if you provide your forwarding address IN WRITING to them. If you never provided your forwarding address in writing (emails count!) then your 30 days time clock has not started ticking. If you did these two things, and 30 days come and go without receiving a detailed bill from your landlord with your deposit deductions, then you can sue to recover your deposit, and your landlord will likely be barred from claiming any damages if they miss the 30 day deadline. But again, you must move out, turn in the keys, AND provide your forwarding address in writing before you start counting 30 days!