Action 13 Renters' Rights: Tenants' top questions on crime, security gates & mailbox concerns

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Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Action 13: Tenants' top questions on crime, security, mailbox issues
Action 13 turned to a Houston attorney to answer top questions from renters about crime committed on the property, faulty security gates, and mailbox concerns.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- From repairs that don't get fixed to mailbox issues, each week ABC13 works to inform people about the rights they have as renters. We hear from many of you with questions and concerns about your renters' rights, and we want to help as many people as possible.

We spoke with local attorney Ernie Garcia to get answers to a few questions that we've gotten from renters across the Houston area.

From Jerry who lives in the South Main area:

Q: Am I legally able to break my apartment lease without consequences if there have been two homicides and my vehicle was broken into within the last six months on property?

A: "Generally, no. Now, if you are a victim of certain crimes, Texas law does allow a tenant who themselves is the victim in very specific situations to exit their lease strictly because they are not safe there, but if crime has happened to a third party, the landlord is not obligated to let you out of your lease because someone else was a victim of a crime," explained Garcia.

From John who lives in the southeast side:

Q: If a complex has a faulty security gate that sometimes stays open for days at a time, is there any reimbursement for my car getting broken into?

A: The answer there, is generally no. The landlord is not ensuring the safety of you or your property from the actions by another person.

From Lauri in the Cypress area:

Q: If the gates have been not working for over six months, can something be done?

A: Attorney Garcia says making a written request to the landlord is the first step to take. Keep in mind, the more residents who take this action, the more likely the landlord is to actually fix the gate.

From Tony in Katy:

Q: Is it legal for the complex to limit your access to your mailbox? He added "Our mail room is only open when the office is open."

A: "Your U.S. Mail, you should have access to 100% of the time. It should be available to you at any time. The U.S. mail carrier will deliver the mail and you should have keyed access exclusive to you," explained Garcia.

So you should have access to your U.S. mail at all times. If there is a separate room where the landlord receives packages that won't fit in the regular mail box, it is not reasonable to expect access to that area all of the time.

If you're a renter and have a question or concern, head visit the ABC13 website and fill out a form with as much detail as possible. You can also call the Renters' Rights line at 713-663-4548.

SEE RELATED STORY: Action 13 Renters' Rights: Houston attorney answers tenants' questions

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