‘This is more than I signed on for:’ Residents ready to move out after power problems in Heights apartments (2024)

Local News

Gage Goulding, News Reporter, Houston, TX

Brett Doster, Photojournalist, Houston, Texas

Tags:Local News, Houston, City of Houston, Durham Heights Apartments, IR Living, Harris County, CenterPoint

HOUSTON – After a nearly two-week-long battle with their landlord, many residents in a Houston Heights apartment complex are looking to move out and move on with their lives.

The Durham Heights Apartments on West 26th Street near the 610 Loop were without power, air conditioning and running water for well over a week following the severe weather outbreak on May 16.

It took up until this Saturday for the building to finally get power restored. And only then was it a slow process to get each and every apartment back online with electricity and air conditioning, which is a necessity in the brutal Houston heatwave this Memorial Day weekend.

CenterPoint says it was able to turn the power back on Saturday afternoon following required repairs which were the responsibility of the property owner.

In the meantime, residents were forced out after a City of Houston inspector came and deemed the property to be unlivable, posting a notice on the door.

This ended up being the icing on the cake for residents who were already on the brink of bailing out and finding a new home.

“I am 65 years old. This is more than I signed on for,” said Linda Carrette. “It’s kind of a little bit, too late. By Thursday last week, I had to go ahead and find a place to live.”

She’s not alone.

Most people KPRC2′s Gage Goulding spoke with said they are seeking housing elsewhere.

“Unfortunately, I don’t see myself staying in a place that I can’t even reach out to with a simple question,” Opal Francis said.

  • Apartment complex left without electricity and water for a week straight

Even though the power is back on, many residents say not everything is working or appliances were broken as a result of whatever caused the major electrical issue in the building.

“Yeah, my fridge is on the blink,” Carrette said.

On top of that, residents shouldn’t even be back in their homes as the city hasn’t yet rescinded their order stating the building is unlivable.

“We actually are not supposed to yet because the city has not removed then inhabitability status yet,” Francis said.

It’s that very tag that could be their ticket out of their lease, according to a housing attorney.

  • Black and white mold sicken family after HHA crew removes AC unit from Cuney Homes apartment for 3 months, tenant says

“I think that if there’s a notice on the door that’s been posted by any authority, like the city or fire marshal, I think a tenant can rely on that to break the lease,” Dana Karni of Lone Star Legal Aid explained. “We recommend that tenants go out of their way and pay for certified mail return receipt requested. We also highly suggest hand delivery, but memorialize it. That means pull out your cell phone and either video or audio. Record that you’re actually delivering a copy of the letter, and keep a copy of the letter for your own records.”

After that -- move out.

“From the moment the tenant has moved out, the tenant is entitled to a pro-rata refund of the rent that they’ve paid and their entire security deposit back,” Karni said.

The same plan goes for repairs. Send a request for repair in writing and ensure its delivery.

  • Several Houston apartment complexes have no water: Here’s what the city says is the problem

Your landlord has seven days to make those repairs, which the state declares as “reasonable time.”

“That seven days would start when the landlord receives the letter. I think it’s imperative that tenants send out a letter requesting demanding a repair just as soon as possible,” said Karni. “Tenants have very few rights in Texas, but tenants do have some rights.”

Understanding those rights can help you if you’re ever stuck between a rock and a hard place with your landlord.

If you have questions or need assistance with an ongoing dispute, Lone Star Legal Aid may be able to help you. Call 713-652-0077.

Start here, Houston!

Copyright 2024 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.

About the Authors
Gage Goulding

Gage Goulding is an award-winning TV news reporter and anchor. A native of Pittsburgh, PA, he comes to Texas from Fort Myers, FL, where he covered some of the areas most important stories, including Hurricane Ian.

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