Ice and snow hit Texas hard last week in the middle of February 2021. Numerous clients called regarding problems with apartment management and insurance companies. An apartment complex refused to come see a client’s apartment and wanted to treat it like just a repair job. After they saw the damage, of thousands of gallons of water in the apartment from frozen and broken sprinklers they realized it was not a repair case but a casualty loss. There is a huge difference. It is detailed more below.
Your lease controls your relationship. In this case the whole purpose is void. At the time of writing the standard TEA lease provides that the landlord must “act with customary diligence to … substantially comply with all applicable laws regarding safety, sanitation, and fair housing; and make all reasonable repairs, subject to [the tenant’s] obligation to pay for damages for which [the tenant] is liable.”
Always send your notice of claims in writing. Take pictures immediately.
Keep a log book of all interaction with the management. You are always free to record so you can ‘just remember what they say.’
While your difficulties are major, the management is having to deal with similar issues. Be kind but firm.
The Texas Property Code at this time deals with casualty losses differently than just repairs:
Sec. 92.054. CASUALTY LOSS.
(a) If a condition results from an insured casualty loss, such as fire, smoke, hail, explosion, or a similar cause, the period for repair does not begin until the landlord receives the insurance proceeds.
(b) If after a casualty loss the rental premises are as a practical matter totally unusable for residential purposes and if the casualty loss is not caused by the negligence or fault of the tenant, a member of the tenant’s family, or a guest or invitee of the tenant, either the landlord or the tenant may terminate the lease by giving written notice to the other any time before repairs are completed. If the lease is terminated, the tenant is entitled only to a pro rata refund of rent from the date the tenant moves out and to a refund of any security deposit otherwise required by law.
(c) If after a casualty loss the rental premises are partially unusable for residential purposes and if the casualty loss is not caused by the negligence or fault of the tenant, a member of the tenant’s family, or a guest or invitee of the tenant, the tenant is entitled to reduction in the rent in an amount proportionate to the extent the premises are unusable because of the casualty, but only on judgment of a county or district court. A landlord and tenant may agree otherwise in a written lease.
NO LEASE EXTENSION REQUIRED.
Sec. 92.062. LEASE TERM AFTER NATURAL DISASTER.
If a rental premises is, as a practical matter, totally unusable for residential purposes as a result of a natural disaster such as a hurricane, tornado, flood, extended freeze, or widespread windstorm, a landlord that allows a tenant to move to another rental unit owned by the landlord may not require the tenant to execute a lease for a term longer than the term remaining on the tenant’s lease on the date the premises was rendered unusable as a result of the natural disaster.