Renters seek solutions to problematic living conditions at city-hosted meeting

SAN ANTONIO – We often receive this complaint in the newsroom: renters are fed up with ongoing property problems.

“It’s very, very difficult, close to impossible, to get any solutions or get anything done,” said Joan Bielfeldt.

The City of San Antonio and the Fair Housing Council hosted Tuesday’s renters rights meeting. The goal was to empower those who feel they are living in unfair or unsafe conditions.

“Increase tenants’ awareness of their rights so they know what to do when they’re faced with an eviction or repair issues that aren’t getting repaired,” said Sandra Tamez, director of the Fair Housing Council of South Texas.

Tamez says one of the biggest mistakes tenants make when an issue is not getting fixed is withholding rent.

“As long as you are current on the rent, the landlord has a responsibility to fix health and safety issues within seven days by a proper request submitted by a tenant,” said Tamez.

Tamez tells us a tenant’s lease should specify how to submit maintenance requests properly, and certain repairs may take longer than seven days if parts need to be ordered.

“At that point, the tenant should reach out to city code compliance to report that issue,” said Tamez.

Tuesday night’s presentation also explained what tenants can do if they have a notice to vacate or eviction, as well as reoccurring maintenance issues.

“There are ways to get out of a lease when health and safety issues are not being addressed; there is a provision in the Texas property code,” said Tamez.

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