The landlord of a flood-ravaged apartment complex is reportedly giving his residents a week’s notice to leave their homes.
Residents said the Legacy Apartments in Houston’s Fifth Ward informed the complex’s first floor they must leave the apartments by November 1.
Management said they collected rent in September and October from residents, even as most of the units show serious damage from the storm yet to be repaired; many of the units lack functioning plumbing, while some still stand with walls removed due to the threat of mold and extensive damage to the sheet rock.
Under Texas law, property owners are permitted to force tenants to leave the property if the residence is completely uninhabitable.
If the property is partially habitable and in need of repairs, according to the applicable provisions, tenants then gain the right to request a reduction or delay in rental payments and to call on the owner to execute the repairs.
Last week, owners of the Legacy Apartments reportedly posted the notice on first-floor units describing the damage as “so extensive that your unit has become totally unusable as a practical matter for residential purposes.”
However, the extent of the damage is not keeping some residents from staying in the units, who say they are left with nowhere else to go, nor is it keeping the owners from collecting on rent payments for units that are classified as “unusable.”
“If they were accepting rent, then that’s pretty strong evidence that they thought the place was habitable to some extent,” Rich Tomlinson, director of litigation for Lone Star Legal Aid, said in an interview.
Michael Rust, the operations manager for the complex, told a local newspaper the notice came in error from miscommunication between management, residents and contractors.
“It was a mistake,” Rust said in his interview. “But again, that just speaks to the difficulty of trying to do repairs like this while people are still in the unit. Maybe we should have given the five-day notice right after the hurricane and not tried to work with people. I don’t know. But we’re doing the best we can.”