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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 102601
Experience:  Qualified attorney in private practice including business, family, criminal, and real estate issues.
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Power went out in parts of the house we lease in Dallas, TX.

Customer Question

Power went out in parts of the house we lease in Dallas, TX. We contacted the landlord per terms of the contract. While waiting for service, we plugged freezer and refrigerator into extension cords and ran them from the garage to receptacles inside the house - a temporary fix while waiting for service/repair. Landlord had someone check then told us the problem was found in the attic and it would take a half day minimum to repair plus some receptacles needed replacing. Later he told us the problem was caused by us plugging in a freezer in the garage that overloaded things (it had been there over two years). He said the freezer would no longer be used. We questioned this, and he said then the only way we'd use the freezer would be to run cords from it into the house and down the hall to plug in. We said we don't think that is safe long term plus we can't close the door from the garage to the hall due to the cord (have to place something heavy against the door to keep it pushed close; no way to lock). Person he had check did something to give temporary service (but not to all that had gone out). Landlord told us house wasn't built to have a freezer in the garage and the closed in courtyard wasn't meant to be an office anyway.)Landlord later emailed us that the problem was caused by us plugging in a freezer that overloaded a circuit. He is not going to do anything to fix the issue and now we have use of only some of the power sources (receptacles) that went out. Additionally, the landlord has now sent us the bill. Are we responsible for the charge, and should the landlord have to restore full electrical service?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Ely replied 2 years ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note:This is general information and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I am sorry to hear about this situation.

Regardless of whether or not the issue was caused by tenant or by the landlord's lack of maintenance, the landlord still owes the tenant a warranty of habitability under Texas Stats Property Code, Title 8, §92.052 et seq. This means ensuring that the property is fit to be lived in.

If the issue was caused by the tenant, the landlord can later BILL the tenant or add this on to the rental amount. However, they cannot simply ignore the issue regardless of whose fault it is. So by not fixing it, they are committing a wrongful act.

Someone in your situation then wants to send the landlord a letter demanding in writing that the issues be fixed and provide a reasonable amount of time (presumed to be 7 days) to do so. If they do not, the tenant then has the option to:

-terminate the lease without penalty, or

-have the condition remedied and deduct from the rent, or

-sue for damages and injunction to do repairs not exceeding $10,000.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Please use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please RATE when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of TOP THREE FACES/STARS and then SUBMIT, as this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars or failing to submit the rating does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith by rating me positively.

Expert:  Ely replied 2 years ago.

Hello again. This is a courtesy check in to see if you needed anything else in regards ***** ***** question. I am simply touching base. Let me know. Thanks!