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Richard - Bizlaw
Richard - Bizlaw, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 10629
Experience:  Commercial and residential leases in NY & NJ & US
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Live at Westwood apartments in Austin TX have horrible

Customer Question

Live at Westwood apartments in Austin TX have horrible neighbors & they prevent us from entering/leaving our apartment, & they have caused water leaks t hat are so bad we have had to stay in hotel (I had insurance) both times-for almost 2 weeks time. Property manager/owners say we are hard to please & non-renewed us (which is fine) but we have to stay until lease is up & our other apt. is ready (Jan 31). We weren't able to live here while repairs were done & Apartments state that is what renters is for. Apt. was unihabitable because of chemicals/materials used to repair and they charged us rent & repeated that is what 'renter's is for'. USAA is going through subrogation with upstairs neighbor regarding the 2 claims I had to file. What can we 'do'?
JA: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state the property is in?
Customer: Austin, TX
JA: Has any paperwork been filed?
Customer: they non-renewed us. I have 2 claims filed with USAA, have called police repeatedly for various reasons...that's it
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: just that this place is ghetto, lots of past complaints from many previous tenants, we are scared almost daily for our safety coming/going, that our hotel stays were in the range of $1200 excluding damages apartments had to pay for their repair, we have constant roach issues, its a nightmare basically-
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
how can I get a probono attorney for this matter?
Expert:  Richard - Bizlaw replied 9 months ago.

Hello, my name is ***** ***** I will try to help you. Please remember I just report or interpret the law, so the outcome may not be what you hoped for.

Is the subrogation by the insurance company also for the rent you paid during the period the unit was being repaired? What are the other problems that exist with the unit that have been communicated to the landlord? Is the landlord aware of the problem with the neighbor interfering with your ability to enter your apartment?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
no-I just contacted insurance co. to check about adding this to claim-there were 2 claims with insurance for 2 separate water damages (for hotel stays only). roaches, mouse, water leaks under kitchen sink, water damage (2) in bathroom, and many incidents with upstairs neighbors outside of water damage...yes landlord is notified of everything and has told me that we are non-renewed (which is fine) but that they are NOT going to do anything and literally "the busk stops here" with the Manager/Owner.
Expert:  Richard - Bizlaw replied 9 months ago.

Here is what I suggest. See if you can have a local building inspector look at your premises and the problems you have and see if there is a code violation. A code violation will help you greatly for the end game to this situation. Next you should make sure you put in writing to the landlord the history of the complaints you filed with them related to the problems and the neighbors. In that letter that you state that you were constructively evicted for the period of the repairs and owed no rent for that. You also want a rent abatement for all the problems you have identified in the rent and that you want a response from the landlord before the January rent is due. I would send this letter with your Dec. rent payment.

From your post, the landlord is not going to take care of any of the problems. He may not respond.

You can then do one of two things. You can take the landlord to court to recover all your rent for the period you had to vacate for repairs as well as a claim a portion of the rent you have paid during the tenancy because the condition of the apartment was so bad you did not get the full value of your rental payments. You will also seek to recover your moving expenses on the basis that the non renewal of the lease is in retaliation for your complaints. You will also seek one month's rent and $2,000 in damages for the landlord purporting to change his duty to provide a habitable premises in violation of Texas law. Here is a link to a handbook on Tenant's rights in TX and you will the $2,000 mentioned on p. 13.

I also suggest you speak to a local landlord tenant attorney because it may be that you would be entitled to recover attorneys fees and an attorney might take the case on a contingency. Having a code violation would strengthen your case considerably and that is why you should contact the local building inspector.

If you do not want to bring suit, you can refuse to pay Jan rent and let them attempt to evict and then bring as a counterclaim all the defenses about the condition of the apartment. Again, if there is a code violation that will strengthen your case considerably. By the time the eviction winds through the court you will have moved anyway. That is why I would wait to not pay the Jan. rent so if you do not want to take action yourself you do not have to be bothered with litigation during the holidays. All of the above you can do without an attorney.

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