Apartment residents suffer through heat with no electricity

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Electricians are working feverishly to restore power to an east Houston apartment complex that has been without air conditioning for 48 hours.

After more than 48 hours without power, residents in an east Houston apartment complex are getting some relief. Electricians began working at 7 a.m. Monday, trying to restore power to 75 units at the Rollingwood Apartments which have been without power since Saturday afternoon. Eureka property management said people can relocate to another complex across the street which does have power and generators will be brought in on Tuesday.

Electricians will also be back Tuesday to fix an underground wire, a problem that was discovered on Monday while fixing an old fuse holder. With a heat advisory outside, it is miserable inside the apartments without power.

"We've been in hell, something. Hot, so hot for the kids. We had to stay in hotel for the last two days," Angelica Ruiz said. Her family doesn't have any more money for hotels, so they opened every door and window to try to cool down. They can't cook anything and lost everything in the fridge.

"The water in the pipes is hot. We can't drink it," she said.

Texas laws protect renters and state that landlords must make repairs for your health and safety.

"What the law says is basically you have to do it as quickly as you can and there's a reasonable test. That depends on the availability of parts, the availability of labor, but doesn't set a specific time limit," explained Andy Teas, with the Houston Apartment Association (HAA). He did not want to comment specifically on the Rollingwood situation but said renters should know their rights.

"If there is a property that's not taking care of basic maintenance, you may have a recourse to get out of your lease," he said. He recommended reporting any maintenance issue immediately and putting any requests in writing. If you feel that your requests are being ignored, you can write a complaint to the property's parent company.

"If it's a more immediate problem where you need to get out of a lease or something like that, you might want to talk to an attorney or if you want to handle it without an attorney, go to your local justice of the peace and that's where proceedings like this generally start."

HAA answers calls on Wednesdays about renter rights and leases. Call (713) 595-0300 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursday and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

If you live in the Houston city limits, you can call 311 or your council person to complain about your complex, if you feel that repairs are not getting done. You can also file a complaint with HAA.

For more detailed information about renter rights and what Texas law states, you can check with the Houston Apartment Association or the Texas Attorney General.
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