CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Ever seen or heard of a Tenants Rights Handbook?
It explains everything, from repairs and improvements, to security deposits and evictions, and more.
The Troubleshooters receive countless calls from renters asking for help because they don't know what they can and can't do, when they have issues with their landlord.
Tuesday, we speak with a local Justice of the Peace, the executive director of the Corpus Christi Housing Authority, and the Texas AG's Office, about what a renters' rights are.
We also speak with two renters.
Donna Ware said she's been living in her apartment on the city's South Side for six years.
Earlier this year, she went on vacation for an extended period of time.
While she was gone, she received phone calls from her next door neighbor, letting Ware know water was leaking onto the floor in Ware's apartment.
"About maybe three or four days later," Ware told the Troubleshooters. "She goes back into the apartment. The water's still there, I called the office, asked them 'why is the water still there?' They keep talking about some kind of work order."
Because the work still hasn't been taken care of by management, Ware claims, that as a 2-time cancer survivor, she doesn't want to expose herself to possible mold.
"So every night around 8 or 9 o'clock, or whatever time you go to sleep, you're in your car?" we asked.
"I'm in my car," she said. "Where are you the rest of the day?" we asked. "Just roaming around," Ware claims.
Jeremiah Alejandro has lived in his apartment on Up River Road less than six months.
He said he and his fiancé kept noticing a soft spot on their kitchen floor getting progressively bigger and bigger. He took a picture that shows it was 14 inches long.
"And your girlfriend, your fiancé, fell through it?" the Troubleshooters asked. "Well, she actually stepped in it, but I actually fell through the hole," Alejandro admitted.
Alejandro said he fell into the hole and all the way to his knee.
Fortunately, nobody got hurt by falling into the hole.
The Troubleshooters asked Ware and Alejandro if they knew their rights a tenants when problems like this surface.
Alejandro said "with a situation like this, I've learned you gotta be on them all the time. And put your foot down, and don't accept 'later' for an answer."
We asked Ware "did you know what your rights were as a renter?"
I mean I know that this is not right, ' she said. "I know this is not right. And they know its not right either."
What the Troubleshooters want Ware and Alejandro and all renters to know is that there are resources available to help.
On the Texas Attorney General's website, click on "Renters Rights."
Get a copy of Tenants Handbook and read it thoroughly.
Precinct One Place 2 Justice of the Peace Henry Santana hears cases between tenants and landlords, and reminds tenants that landlords have a responsibility by law.
"They're responsible for a healthful environment. No roaches. No termites. Nothing. And they're responsible for a safe environment," Santana said.
He also points out;
1, PARTY RESPONSIBLE FOR PEST CONTROL MUST BE WRITTEN IN BOLD PRINT IN LEASE.
If for instance the tenant's going to be responsible for pest control, it must be written in bold print on the lease agreement.
2. PARTY RESPONSIBLE FOR REPAIRS/REIMBURSEMENT MUST BE WRITTEN IN BOLD PRINT IN LEASE.
The party responsible for repairs must also be written in bold print on the lease.
If you are to be reimbursed for repairs you make, it must also say so in the lease.
Also, according to the judge, you must pay your rent in a timely manner. If you don't, you cannot file a certified letter to your landlord for repairs.
It's a little different for the tenants in the 2100 units under the Corpus Christi Housing Authority. It's Section 8 government housing.
Rent is 30 percent of a tenant's income.
CCHA does routine pest control, according to CCHA Executive Director Gary Allsup, who adds, his job is not to kick tenants out, but rather make them successful.
"In a private apartment complex, if somebody loses their job, their rent doesn't change just because they lose a job. For us, if their income changes, their rent changes."
Coincidentally, while we were visiting with Ware, a maintenance man showed up to check out the scope of the necessary repairs in her unit.
Ware wants out of her apartment. Out of the complex. Out of Corpus Christi because of how she feels she's been treated by management.
"I want my furniture cleaned. I want all my clothes cleaned. I'm a cancer survivor. Everything's exposed," she said.
Alejandro told the Troubleshooters management is letting him out of his lease. So he's moving out of the complex.
Judge Santana also advised on a "notice to vacate" and an eviction.
Texas law states a tenant can not be given less than three days to vacate a premises.
If they do not, the case goes to court, where an eviction notice can be issued.
But the tenant gets to stay in the rental unit until after the case is heard.
Then they have an additional five days to vacate.