'They should not have to live in squalor': City gives Third Ward landlord 2 weeks to fix problems

Courtney Carpenter Image
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
City gives Third Ward landlord 2 weeks to fix problems
A woman reached out to Action 13's Renter's Rights saying she is fed up with the broken A/C and rats inside her Third Ward rental home.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- At a home in the 2800 block of Berry Street in Houston's Third Ward, old campaign signs have been used to patch up holes and windows, and the current renter, Mary Gomez, says the central heat and A/C have not worked for months.

She has had enough.

"I wish I would have seen that on TV before I moved over here. I wouldn't have done it," Gomez explained.

Gomez is referring to this ABC13 story in back in April of 2021.

It was months after the big freeze, and still, tenants had not been able to get their landlord to fix their pipes.

That landlord's name is Brad Batteau. At the time, he told ABC13, he could not make the repairs because tenants owed him rent money.

Batteau owns the home Gomez moved into this February, as well as fifteen others in Third Ward, according to county records.

"Well, first of all, the air conditioner. We really need that. It's gotten super hot. (Monday) it was 88 (degrees) in here," Gomez explained.

Besides that, Gomez says there are holes in the home, so they are constantly dealing with rats and other pests inside, and there are also issues with the sink and tub draining.

"To me, it's not healthy for us. The only reason that I'm sticking it out is because the kids are in school," Gomez said.

Houston City Councilmember Carolyn Evans-Shabazz knew about the problems back in 2021. On Tuesday, she told us her office played a part in getting the rent that was owed paid to Batteau with help from a local nonprofit, in hopes he would then be able to fix up the homes.

"He said he was behind on taxes, so I really don't know what he did with the money, but the bottom line is, these are human beings. They should not have to live in squalor...What I suggested to him back in 2021, because he has about 16 properties, is to sell a few of these properties so that you can no longer be a slum lord," Evans-Shabazz said.

In March, the city issued Batteau a violation, calling this a dangerous building. Still, though, repairs have not been made. Now, he has two weeks to fix the home. If not, Evans-Shabazz says the city will place a lien on the property and fix it up themselves.

For Gomez and her family, two weeks can't come soon enough.

"Marvin Zindler used to say, 'It's hell being poor.' Well, it is. But, just because we're poor doesn't mean that we shouldn't have proper housing," Gomez said.

Eyewitness News reached out to Batteau on Tuesday. He first agreed to speak with us, but then did not show up for the interview.

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