Renting in Ruins: What you can legally do to deal with a bad landlord

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HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO)—Several renters at Vintage Square apartments shared videos of a crumbling property with broken windows, air conditioners that do not work, a green pool, and promises for repair ending in calls not being returned.

CBS4 is working for you and reached out to the on-site management and learned the apartment complex is under new ownership.

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Dasmen Residential LLC purchased the property. A member claiming to be part of their corporate team told morning anchor Derick Garcia, the owners “have deep pockets” and the previous property owners are to blame.

However, the renters caught in the middle of the management tug-of-war say neither is winning them over.

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“It’s freaking pouring outside and water is coming through the window,” said Genesis Guzman, a renter who reached out to Garcia after she captured rain pouring through her window seal. “They expect us to pay the rent a certain day, we pay it a certain day, I expect them that when I have an emergency for them to be out here.”

CBS4 and the on-site corporate member negotiated an on-camera interview but shortly before the scheduled time, the person was advised “Per our executive team, I have been instructed to not go on camera.”

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A list of questions was sent to Dasmen’s team, no response has been received by our air-date.

Out of desperation, the renters asked KVEO if they can legally withhold rent due to the conditions and lack of maintenance.

Attorney Ricardo Barerra said a renter cannot withhold payment as a form of protest if under a lease contract.

“You can make the repairs yourself and withhold the amount of money in the rent that you used in order to make the repairs,” said Barrera.

Barrera advises documenting all issues including dates, times, staff members’ conversations, and emails. Take photos videos and keep receipts.

If needed, a Justice of Peace could hear a case between a renter and landlord.

Barerra suggests recording conversations, provide written notice with realistic time frames for repairs or requests for maintenance to be addressed such as several days if not weeks depending on the issue.

“When you have a cocky corporate apartment complex and thinks that they won’t answer up for anything maybe this hasn’t had the uncomfortable experience of being on the stand and cross-examine for their wrongdoings,” said Barrera

Barerra suggests also using the government to help. Contact the Texas Attorney General’s Renter’s Rights website to file a complaint and the Better Business Bureau. To report federal housing issues you can contact the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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