After 71 days of a rent strike, tenants in West Houston finally succeed in holding their landlord accountable.
The tenants at Villas De Paseo began the rent strike in February after the winter storm forced them to live a week without water as well as the ongoing issue of rain leaking into the apartments.
According to Texas law, landlords have the right to evict their tenants without rent regardless of if the apartment is habitable or maintained.
However, Raimy Aguilar, a tenant at Villas De Paseo decided enough was enough and banded her neighbors together to determine what to do about the negligence of the landlord.
With help from the Houston Tenants Union, an organization that helps determine strategies renters can use and ways to connect, Aguilar and her neighbors got others involved in a rent strike.
The Houston Tenants Union co-founder Zoey Stone explained, “Rents are rising, and conditions are deteriorating,” when asked why she founded the organization.
While renters’ demands being met is rare in Houston, the tenants of Villas De Paseo demanded a $500 rent credit for the weeks without water, late fees waived, and the ability to break their lease without a fine.
On May 7, Comuna Property Management agreed to all of the demands.
The Villas De Paseo tenants are not the only ones in Houston dealing with the negligence of management. An apartment building in West University has tenants demanding to be let out of their lease on account of exposure to black mold.
“We have had more than a dozen repair requests go ignored,” Nina Mayers, a tenant of one of Arris Real Estate Partners’ buildings, said. “Property management failed to repair the mold, violating a landlord’s duties to remove conditions that materially affect the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant, from the Texas Property Code 92.056.”
These tenants have not been let out of their lease for the months they have not lived in the building.