HOUSTON, Texas - With Houston flooded once again, it's still difficult to estimate the scope of the damage. And while much attention has been given to home-owners and the hit their houses took, it's the tenants who are sometimes kept under the radar… or should we say under the water.
"As a tenant to apartment complexes you don't get the same relief that home-owners get: you have renters insurance but it only does so much," expressed Tiffany Richardson. She rents an apartment next to Brays Bayou, in the Meyerland area. On Monday, she and her daughter watched the flood waters cover their residence and destroy their car. "By the time we realized it, it was too late," she said. "So, we just had to sit still."
Tiffany lives on the third floor. Although she doesn't have hot water or air conditioning at the moment, her unit was not directly affected. She wants to move to a healthier environment, but she's found out that she can't break the lease. Not even due to a natural disaster. "They tell us we have to pay these astronomical fees," Tiffany exclaimed.
So, what to do? We asked Attorney at Law Benny Agosto, Jr., Vice President of the Houston Bar Association, for some tips.
"The question is: is that apartment uninhabitable?", he asked. "It may be. If the water is not working, the electricity is not working, that apartment becomes uninhabitable because there's also sewage and water and smells and things that may cause damage to health. So, that apartment, if it is uninhabitable she can break the lease and get out."
However, the attorney said, if the management fixes the problem and the apartment goes back to normal… sorry, folks, there's no easy way out of that lease.
"I want to call Houston home, but I'm making decisions," Tiffany sighed.
When waters knock at your door, it stinks… literally.