Sarah Gill | News Director
Baylor has returned to normal class instruction but many students are still navigating their next steps due to the impact of winter storm Uri. Some students are left searching for water or electricity issues to be resolved, and others are searching for a new home.
One household of eight Baylor students was left inhabitable due to an upstairs ceiling that caved in.
Mandeville La. senior Will Stogner said, “We had a sprinkler pipe upstairs that completely burst because it was too cold, and who knows how long it was flooding, and flooded the whole house. There was probably 2-3 inches of water everywhere, the walls were soaked.”
McKinney senior Dylan Tippit said, “It was a surreal experience just to walk in and look up and realize that the ceiling was on the floor and there was water everywhere.”
The guys rushed to save their most valuable possessions and electronics.
“We were just kinda running around like crazy, trying to grab our stuff and get out,” Tippit said.
With no home, the eight roommates bounced around “couch surfing,” but they knew they couldn’t bounce house to house forever.
Since their home is so severely damaged, Brothers gave them a couple of units at 11th Street Flats to live in.
“So that’s where we’re gonna be spending the rest of the semester as they fix this house because it’s just not livable at this point,” Stogner said.
As for the state of their lease and any other residents facing problems, Phyllis Davis with Brothers Management said, “please note we are doing everything we can… for some properties, we are somewhat at the mercy of the availability of third-party vendors and insurance adjusters.”
If you are facing a similar situation, Baylor professor of law Bridget Fuselier shared some tips and insight regarding your rights as a righter.
Fuselier said, “To trigger the remedies available to a tenant under the property code, an actual written letter has to be sent, and it has to be sent in a method where you can get a return receipt showing that it was received.”
An example of this would be certified mail or registered mail.
Some apartment complexes and property management companies have resident portals to submit maintenance requests. This means that even if you submit a request, you should still send a written letter.
Additionally, Fuselier recommends you send this written letter to the landlord directly. Whether you are living in an apartment or house, you have the right to know who your landlord is, and there are repercussions if your request is denied.
“Sometimes the actual owner of the property doesn’t necessarily know exactly how their property management is handling it,” Fuselier said. “If they realize they have a bunch of unhappy tenants, they might adjust the actions of their property management company.”
Since this is a natural disaster, the timeline looks a little different.
“The period for repair does not begin until the landlord receives insurance proceeds,” Fuselier said.
This muddies the water a bit, meaning there is not a universal certain amount of days before maintenance issues must be fixed.
The following are additional renter’s rights if it is a casualty loss situation, according to the Texas Property Code:
- If your home is inhabitable, you have the right to notify your landlord and terminate the lease if the landlord does not fix it.
- For issues relating to water and electricity, you have the right to pay for the issues to be fixed and deduct the cost from your rent. This is referred to as the Repair and Deduct Remedy. The cost of repairs is limited to one month of rent or $500, whatever is greater.
- You have the right to sue the landlord to have the repairs made and also recover other money damages.