Comment of the Day: Renting After Harvey

COMMENT OF THE DAY: RENTING AFTER HARVEY “What if a rental tenant brings to the attention of a landlord that the sheetrock and flooring need to be replaced in order for the home to be habitable. Then, the landlord agrees and ends the lease, deems the costs associated with repair to be uneconomical and tears down the house. The family living there has no place to go as every rental property in the same price strata has been leased. What then? This is not a rhetorical question. I have TWO close friends with young children in this situation. Landlord wants to tear down the homes because repairs too costly. Both families have money to pay rent, but can’t find a home to rent. Advice is welcome.” [Nice Neighbor, commenting on A Flood of Eviction Notices; Meyerland, Before and After; Here Come the Mosquitoes] Illustration: Lulu

14 Comment

  • Have your two friends pool their money and live in a more expensive house and film a sitcom called Full House Harvey. Maybe they don’t need to film a sitcom but I think the housing stock is more plentiful at the higher price points.

  • I think this is why a lot of people left New Orleans

  • This is a bad situation for all involved. Your friends are in a tough position and so are the property owners. I would advise your friends to look in other neighborhoods that did not see as much flooding. Maybe the rental market is not seeing the same demand in those places. Yes, it’s rotten for a number of reasons to have to pick up and move to another neighborhood. No one would argue otherwise.

    I would also ask that they not vilify the property owners who have seen their property destroyed. They cannot rebuild without money, and rent payments often will not support new construction. That is even more so the case now that construction labor and materials are becoming more expensive as so many people are trying to repair their flood damaged homes. Also, consider the liability of letting people rent a home that has been soaking in some combination of sewage and bayou water. You cannot fault a landlord for wanting to avoid that liability. Also, I would expect your friends to not want to take the risk of illness from living in such a place.

  • Commenter7 gets jackass of the month award.

  • Do they really have no place to go or they can’t rent in a prestigious part of town? Where were they living? What is the budget? The school year is just starting. You have to accept that you may need to live 30 miles from the city center if house sharing is not an option. It didn’t seem like these friends are low income. What is stopping them from renting an apt or home in katy or sugar land? If there is no path to an affordable rental in meyerland then it’s better to bite the bullet now and face reality.

  • I don’t think I am being rude. These are RENTERS who flooded out and the landlord let them out of the lease with no issues. Waiting for the landlord to repair would be at least 6 months to wait to get back into a rental.
    They are in a much better position than homeowners who pay a mortgage and must repair while renting elsewhere. Go rent where you can afford with good schools. If you want to stay in the same area you must make a sacrifice some how and pay more or share living costs. Seriously, this is not a rubiks cube. Just tell them to do what they need to do asap because school is starting soon and they need to build their new life. Moping about the location they lost is not a solution. Move forward.

  • I agree Commenter7. People who rent and lost their apartment are a lot better off then the many people who own a home that was damaged and have no flood insurance. They have to pay out of pocket for repairs that can run into tens of thousands of dollars, continue to pay a mortgage and find a place to live during the repairs. During a flood like this I would rest much easier as a renter than an owner with no insurance. If your biggest challenge from Harvey is finding a new place to rent then consider yourself lucky. Drive in from La Grange if you have to, I know a lot of people that do.

  • Commented7 is spot on. The landlord needs to rebuild and is letting the renters walk. Floods suck and buildings get condemned. There is no shortage of available rental units in this town.

    Also to the Katrina comment – I’m a refugee. High rent prices had nothing to do with our exodus. It was all the crime and chaos moving into “the island” of FQ, WD, GD and Uptown that got us out. Similar to what montrose, upper Kirby, and midtown are experiencing right now. And gawd… the traffic.

  • In Texas, a landlord can give a tenant the boot with 30 days notice when the landlord decides to demo the property. So, in this situation, there is really no way to force the landlord to repair even if the remediation work is not that difficult.

    If I was in that situation, I would find a two bedroom in a decent multifamily complex and get bunk beds. The crunch on single family rentals will probably take about a year to work through. Once all the people who are renting while they renovate move out, availability of single family rentals will improve a lot.

  • I want to be clear, I can totally sympathize with the landlord. We are in an area with a top rated, yet over- subscribed public school and both families have grade school-aged children and are trying to avoid changing schools. I don’t disagree that moving into a different part of town is a likely scenario. Perhaps a plea to the principal to consider grandfathering the kids at their existing schools.

    As a side note, it seems, in our neighborhood at least, that rental properties (being older and typically on lower ground than surrounding new homes) bore the brunt of the flooding.

  • There are craploads of vacant apartments for lease all over this city. Rent an apartment. I know it’s not the same thing as having a free-standing home with a yard, but hey – it’s a place to live. It doesn’t have to be forever. If your economic situation has not changed, but the market has, then you have to change your standards. Hopefully it’s only a temporary situation and in a year or so you can get back into a house. Sucks for all involved, no easy solutions for anyone. Best of luck!

  • @OldSchool – You’re referring to Section 92.055 of the Texas Property Code which allows landlords to terminate a lease upon written notice stating: (1) that the landlord is terminating the lease as soon as possible; and (2) as soon as the tenant moves out the landlord will demolish the unit or no longer use it for residential purposes. I think the last time this was in the news was when the Menil bought and shut down a large complex on Richmond which is now being redeveloped as part of its campus expansion.
    All tenants should be aware of Section 92.054 which says either a landlord or a tenant may terminate a lease if “after a casualty loss the rental premises are as a practical matter totally unusable for residential purposes”. If the lease is terminated, the tenant is entitled to a refund of rent from the date they move out and a refund of their security deposit.

  • Nice Neighbor, I know several property owners (and I have many units myself). I haven’t seen or heard about any mass filling of available units or even any increase in demand. We have almost the same number we had before. Almost all of our properties (save the small ones) have at least a few units available.
    Maybe it’s because people that flooded live in areas that flooded thus if they want to stay in the same general area they’re not going to see anything available. Where as people that have property in areas that didn’t flood are not seeing an increase in demand since other people in that are didn’t flood thus don’t need a new place.

  • There’s a no money down mortgage specifically for disaster victims who were renting or owned a flooded home. It’s called FHA 203(H). The credit standards are relaxed. If the tenants have first months rent a sale security deposit that can be used for closing costs.