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RealEstateAnswer, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 27280
Experience:  10+ years in handling Leases, Landlord-Tenant, Foreclosures,Mortgages, and Eviction cases
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We signed a lease on July 1. Upon receiving

Customer Question

We signed a lease for execution on July 1. Upon receiving the keys: we entered the premises only to find extreme cat and dog urination spots everywhere in the house with a toxic odor. The landlord fought us on the repair/replacement however she ended up replacing it. Now we are over a week past the start date and have yet to be able to move as there is no flooring. The house was left a mess, yard not groomed (which lease stated was to be done) we had to repaint to get smell of urine out, electrical panel outside out of code, many issues. My question is since we are unable to move; can I be refunded for the time starting the 1st up until the move in day? I don't believe we should be paying for something we are physically unable to move in to. Also, the landlord refuses to come see the damages or do a walk through as she lives too far away and hurt her ankle. We have put in over 1,000 out of pocket for necessary repairs and we haven't even moved in yet. Looking at the safety guidelines laws for Texas; it doesn't list pet urine which is toxic to be around. Please advise. Thanks
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 2 years ago.
Good morning. I certainly understand the situation and your concern. Was there any clause in the the lease which would allow the landlord to have additional time to get the rental ready for move in? Just to be clear, the landlord has not done anything to get the rental ready and basically just gave you the keys? Did you document everything that needed to be fixed and send it to her?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes we did however Texas states as-is for move in. She never verified the condition of the house. Had she done so she would have seen the house was no where near move in ready and had so many urine stains that there was nothing else to do but change out all the carpets. She still to date has yet to come see the property which is still incomplete. Nothing was clean, and you really can't be in the house as the urine is toxic to breathe in. I have a lot of picture documentation.
Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for the additional information. The rental property should have been move in ready-in ready. If you agreed to it being "as is", you can likely make the argument that it was in regard to the condition when you say it and those things were not present when you signed the lease and the rental was not move in ready, as there was a clear stains on the carpet and the odor was present. Moreover, there were other issues which prevented you from taking possession. If you could not move in, for health reasons, then the landlord should refund you the money for days you could not actually stay in the rental. Moreover, if the landlord refuses to fix or repair anything, you can try and sue for damages. The rental needs to be habitable and safe for living as well. The fact that she hurt her ankle and lives far away is not a defense to prevent any of this and she has a legal obligation to take care of it. If she can not, then she needs to hire someone to act on her behalf. Please let me know if you have any follow up questions or need any clarification on something which I stated above. Also, remember to rate my service before exiting the site, so I can receive credit for my help. I hope you found it to be Excellent! Only rate my answer when you are 100% satisfied. If you feel the need to click either of the two lower ratings to the left, please stop and reply to me. I want to make sure your experience with the site was as pleasurable as possible and that you are satisfied with the help I provided.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
She is stating when we were shown property with our realtor we should've noticed then. There was furniture over all troubled spots and there were multiple candles burning which we assumed were for ambiance to show the house. We now know it was to mask odors. The odors became worse when the old tenant cleaned the carpets. Had we known any of this we would not have rented this property. The house was filthy and she states we are being too picky and can move out in the same condition we moved in to it. She is acting as if it's a favor to us to have replaced the carpets: if I could send you pictures or video you'd feel ill seeing it. Are you in TX and familiar with TX tenant law? I'm not; I own properties in AZ and am a landlord so I maybe have higher expectations and know AZ law but this is new territory for me. The Property Manager has also required me to take off multiple days of work to go document things with pictures and do her job. We've cooperated as we feel stuck in the lease but this is out of control now. Hour long calls to ask us for more when she could just come herself. We've taken on other projects to make the house livable by getting the smell out by painting as well as the concrete and wood under the carpets are urine stained. She has stated that "we can ask for nothing else now" as the owner is overwhelmed by having to pay for carpet which is 10 years old and despite the pets probably needed changed out. At what point can we stop having to do her job of being project manager, documenting, and ask for rent relief next month as she already has July rent. Are any of the repairs and painting to deodorize the house expensable? This is an expensive move on but again she's saying as/is which I need clarification on. To be clear though; she legally has to reimburse is for the 8 days we have been unable to move in (however many days it ends up being) and what if she doesn't fix the out of code electrical panel? Can we ask her for the owners information as the owner needs to know the complete lack of professionalism from her property manager and see the house and what shape its in now. I can't move in and that's their fault so I'm paying double rents right now. Just not sure what as-is really means and what my rights are. Everything I've read about animal urine is that it's toxic and we have young kids. What if they go on the cheap and just try to mask the smell by not treating the issue and just covering it? We are nervous of what is to come if this is how we've started and want to assure this is all on the up and up. Thanks.
Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 2 years ago.
You have a right to demand that the landlord repair any condition that materially affects your health and safety. Under Texas law, by renting you the property, the landlord guarantees that the unit will be a fit place to live.SB 1448 (81st Regular Session), effective January 1, 2010, now grants justices of the peace authority to order landlords to repair or remedy conditions affecting a tenant's health and safety, as long as the cost of the repair does not exceed $10,000. Tenants can go to justice court without an attorney to obtain a repair order. If the landlord won't make repairs needed to protect your health, safety, or security, and you follow the procedures required by law, you may be entitled to:End the lease;Have the problem repaired and deduct the cost of the repair from the rent; orFile suit to force the landlord to make the repairs.You MUST Follow These Steps:Send the landlord a dated letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by registered mail, outlining the needed repairs. You may also deliver the letter in person. Keep a copy of the letter. Be sure that your rent is current when the notice is received.Your landlord should make a diligent effort to repair the problem within a reasonable time after receipt of the notice. The law presumes seven days to be a reasonable time, but the landlord can rebut this presumption. If the landlord has not made a diligent effort to complete the repair within seven days and you did not have the first notice letter delivered to your landlord via certified mail, return receipt requested, or via registered mail, you will need to send a second notice letter regarding the needed repairs.If the landlord still has not made diligent efforts to repair the problem within a reasonable time after receipt of the notice letter sent by certified mail, return receipt requested or by registered mail, you may be entitled to terminate the lease, repair the problem and deduct the cost from your rent, or get a court to order that the repairs be made. .Under Texas law, it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against you for complaining in good faith about necessary repairs for a period of six months from the date you made such a complaint. Of course, you can always be evicted if you fail to pay your rent on time, threaten the safety of the landlord or intentionally damage the property.You do not have a right to withhold rent because the landlord fails to make repairs when the condition needing repair does not materially affect your health and safety. If you try this method, the landlord may file suit against you.Recovering Your Deposit. Most landlords require you to pay a security deposit to cover any repairs needed when you move out or to cover your failure to pay the last month's rent. By law, landlords cannot refuse to return the deposit without a valid reason.Deductions for damages. Under Texas law, you must give the landlord a forwarding address and the landlord must return the deposit — less any amount deducted for damages — within 30 days. If the landlord withholds part or all of your deposit, he or she must give you an itemized list of deductions with a description of the damages.Normal wear and tear. The landlord may not charge you for normal wear and tear on the premises and may only charge for actual abnormal damage. For example, if the carpet simply becomes more worn because you and your guests walked on it for a year, the landlord may not charge you for a new carpet. If your water bed leaks and the carpet becomes mildewed as a result, you may be charged.Advance notice requirements. You should check your rental agreement to see if it requires you to give the landlord advance notice that you are moving. Many leases require 30 days notice as a condition of returning your deposit.If you give your landlord your new address in writing and you do not receive your deposit or an explanation within 30 days of your departure, contact the landlord. If you cannot resolve the problem satisfactorily, you may wish to consult an attorney. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau or your local tenant's council. You can also file a complaint with this office.
Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 2 years ago.
I just wanted to follow up and see if you had any other questions or needed me to clarify something. I am here to help, so please let me know. Thanks!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Guess I was looking for more actual legal advice as to what I can do and how to renegotiate to get the monies back as I can't move in yet... Legally how can I get her to assist in a renegotiated lease. Texas also has a deodorizing clause in the lease and isn't fixed so we painted and legally can that be reimbursed? Can I legally request the owners information and get them involved or go the the property managers broker? I understand the sending a certified letter but we have yet to even move in?
Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 2 years ago.
If the property manager is authorized to act on behalf of the landlord, you need to go through them. Everything should be documented and the laws which you are applying, show be cited, so they can clearly see how they are in violation. You can then present them with the costs and/or losses and make a demand for them to pay or deduct that amount from future rent. If they fail to comply and are in breach of the lease agreement, you can then decide to vacate and sue them for damages incurred as well. You can not force her to do anything. What you can do is file suit, to recover and let the Judge decide.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Sorry I hit send to soon... Who decides what's "livable" as a move in condition? She says I'm being picky and too clean however again; she's never seen it. How do I legally get around this? We just opened the stove vent to clean the grease and there are so many bugs in there. How do I get an impartial party to come out and see that it was unlivable and still has fans that don't work, burned out bulbs, hole in the wall to exterior, etc.. While none of them are not making it non livable they are all things I'm having to spend money on and fix myself as she won't come.
Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 2 years ago.
If the home is not habitable, then it is not livable. For example, the issue with the stove, grease and bugs. Yes, you may have to clean it and spray but it is not something that would prevent you from living there. However, if the issue with the pet urine is a health risk and you bring out a third party cleaner to inspect and evidence the same and it does pose a health risk, then it would not be habitable. You do have a right for the rental to be clean. If fans do not work and bulbs are burned out, that would not allow you to just leave. A bulb can be replaced. Yes, there is a cost but it would not allow you to break the lease. Moreover, the hole in the wall would not prevent you from living there. When you took possession, a walk through should have been done with the property manager. If the landlord is relying on the lease and advising that you take it "as is" and you agreed to the same, they could have a defense to the cosmetic things.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
That's the issue is the property manager will not come and did not go and it was all covered when we did a walk through as it was lived in... Now it's a different story after they moved out and she won't come...
Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 2 years ago.
Then at this point you go to the owner, if the property manager is failing t perform their duties. The owner is responsible at the end of the day, so informing them that their employee is failing to act in their best interest, may wake them up.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
So legally I can ask for owners info?
Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 2 years ago.
Yes, if the property manager is not responding to your requests, reach out to the owner. If they do not give it, look it up in the public records.

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