We decided to rent for a year rather than buy immediately in Texas for a couple reasons: 1) We don’t know the area and we didn’t want to accidentally buy in a bad spot. 2) We hoped to buy a fixer upper and we didn’t want our kids living in a construction zone. I can’t tell you how many of my friends said, ‘You are going to LOVE renting! It is so great not to have to worry about anything for once! No home repair worries! That’s someone else’s problem!’
The house we are renting is in a great area super close to my work. I can, and do, walk when the weather is nice. The house is 70 years old. Yeah. 70. Our house in California was 60 so the age didn’t scare me – plus, maintenance isn’t my problem! The difference between my house in California and this house in Texas is my house was well maintained. This house…well…it just isn’t.
We had problems from day one like lights, sprinklers, and gates not working but we moved in anyway because it didn’t seem like a big deal. What we didn’t realize was the hell the plumbing would be in this house. Every time we took a shower, the toilets bubbled and emptied. If you flushed while someone was in the shower, or within 20 minutes of a shower, the toilet would overflow. We called them out about once a month to ask if they could fix it for four months. They’d send out a drain snake person but it was never fixed so we got in the habit of not flushing toilets around shower or laundry times (which is hard to train a 4 year old so we still ended up cleaning toilet flooding regularly). Things kept (and keep) breaking. The oven and stove were out for a couple weeks in December. The light fixtures in the bedrooms stop working sometimes (we’d replace the bulbs but they’d burn out in hours so we stopped) so we use flashlights for weeks until they send someone out to replace the fixture. Yes, I could be a pain on these but I was trying to be understanding that the homeowner is a teacher and this was his parents house and he has no money.
But February was…well…I just can’t. My husband turned on the washing machine and left to run errands. He came home and raw sewage had filled the shower and tub. The toilets would no longer flush. He called the property management company who said they’d send someone out. They still hadn’t arrived by 5pm THE NEXT DAY so we called again (we’d been not showering and driving to the grocery store to use the bathroom). They finally sent someone out to snake the lines at 8pm. That guy pushed the snake further than the last service guys and found/removed a giant root ball that had grown into the lines and the sewer drained from inside the house. Hurray!
We still had problems though, the fill valve in the master bathroom had stopped working in January and we had to keep a bucket in the bathroom to fill the tank with so we could flush. The toilet base was also leaking so we had to keep a towel around it. We asked them to fix both those things and they came out a couple days after the sewage backup to fix them. They fixed the fill valve but discovered a crack in the pipe under the toilet and couldn’t put the toilet back on correctly so it rocks when you sit on it.
Then the toilets stopped flushing. Again. Yay! More overflowing toilets to clean!
Yeah. Turns out, the guy who ‘fixed’ the master bathroom toilet was trying to get the toilet back on and accidentally pushed a ton of wax down the pipe…then left. We called the property management company to fix it. Another service company came to snake the lines and found the wax and removed as much as they could. They talked to us about the repairs needed on the broken pipe in the master bath and told us to be prepared to have water shut off and no access to the bathroom for a while. They would be tunneling under the house to fix it.
By this point, I’m done. The whole reason we were renting while we renovate the house we just bought was to prevent our kids from living in a construction zone. We are replacing all the flooring, painting the whole house, replacing 24 windows, completely remodeling the master bathroom, and redoing the flooring, tiling, and cabinet paint in the kitchen. Yet, this rental house is so much worse than a construction zone. Turns out, I prefer dust and noise to cleaning raw sewage repeatedly. Call me crazy! I asked the property management company if we could be released from our lease if we could be out in 30 days due to this constant nightmare.
They have declined.
So now I’m waiting for yet another service company to schedule time to do the tunneling under the house to fix a broke pipe and we’ll have no water or flushing toilets…again. My frustration level is through the roof and I feel so trapped in this situation. Renting has been the worst experience and I never want to rent a house again. I’ll choose construction where I control the environment every time. I’m so lost on where to go from here and I’m so tired of cleaning up poop – literally.
Beks is a full-time government employee who enjoys blogging late into the night after her four kids have gone to sleep. She’s been married to Chris, her college sweetheart, for 15 years. In 2017, after 3 long years working the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps, they paid off more than $70K and became debt free. When she’s not working or blogging, she’s exploring the great outdoors.
Please document all of this with dates, times, issues, results, etc….I imagine if they could see it all in black and white they may rethink letting you out of your lease as opposed to a lawsuit.
I stupidly didn’t start documenting anything until things started going really bad. Fortunately when I did start documenting, it looked pretty awful on paper. I sent them a breakdown of the dates, times, and damages (we had to throw away quite a bit from the shower and tub) but they refuse to budge. I really didn’t expect them to, it’s a really shady property management company. I should have listened to my gut right from the start.
Oof that’s quite the journey, I know Texas isn’t exactly known for having strong tenant’s rights but you should look up what protections might exist and if there’s anything which could let you break the lease early, or at least get credit for days where it was unihabitable.
We are definitely going to do some research on what our options are.
Yikes, that is a real horror tale! I hope you get out of there soon for your whole families sanity sake. Its not a silver lining but it might have been good for the kids to experience some inconvenience early in life. It will help them appreciate having working plumbing in the future. We did nine live-in renovations of the only house we’ve ever owned, even lived in it while adding a second story to the place. We had three kids through most of those and while it was noisy and dusty a lot of the time they enjoyed seeing how houses were built and crawling on the rafters with me. I’m definitely a fan of owning.
Nine! Wow! That’s awesome. I like the silver lining perspective. I need to take a little bit of that perspective myself! It has definitely helped me understand the plight of those in bad renting situations!
That stinks that you’re dealing with that. Sounds like my crappy rental that I can’t seem to quit! This is why I advocate people doing some googling on their landlord. You do not want a poor landlord or someone who has become an accidental landlord (like this!). If you pick a landlord with no money you will be having problems forever. Ideally, I wish we could do credit checks. We moved across the country and into a condo we thought was a great deal. Turns out it was because the owner couldn’t afford the mortgage and moved out. A month later they/we were foreclosed on. We spent 11 months with realtors coming through whenever they wanted. Then when we moved out we found out the landlord had been using our deposit for all the repairs and it was all gone.
If you have no water or bathrooms for multiple days, you can use your renter’s insurance for a hotel. Or, maybe you could convince the landlord to sell the place and reap the rewards of the appreciation? Obviously they don’t have the cash to keep it habitable. Look up your states habitability laws to see if there’s anything you can get out of the lease on.
Oh my goodness! That sounds awful!
I didn’t think about the renters insurance. We are currently without water again and won’t have any for two days. Ugh.
First, never ever leave washer, dryer, or dishwasher running if you are not home. But, the conditions that you are experiencing are not related to that, and are also considered uninhabitable. If the property manager will not work with you and allow you to get out of your lease in these unsanitary conditions, you can involve the local authorities and they can deem it uninhabitable and you can terminate the lease. You may need to consult an attorney, but I’d start with the city or county.
We have had pretty much all the pipes under our house and out to the street replaced. We were never without water for more than an hour or two.
They would lay everything out and get everything ready and then would cut the water when it was time to hook everything up. It was easy.
Under the house, we have a crawl space so maybe that is different. Out to the street, they had to dig three-four feet down but we still were not without water for more than a couple hours.
I am so sorry!
Unfortunately the house is on a slab. They are jackhammering through it right now and they have a giant hole where the toilet used to be. : (
Look into the TX/Local Landlord/Tenant laws. Working plumbing is a necessity. If it fails to be fixed or you are without working plumbing you might be entitled to break the lease and/or rent abatement. Don’t back down. Education yourself about the law and be proactive. There might be a Renter’s hotline you can call. (my local area has one). I am an attorney, but not well versed in TX law, but I used to volunteer in law school for the aforementioned local tenant hotline.
That’s super helpful! I’ll check it out!
Have your lawyer send both the owner and property management company a letter. Maybe cc a tenants rights organization and threaten going to the press. They’ll release you from the lease.
I believe it is illegal to not have access to water. I would report them to the county/local housing authority every single time something goes wrong.
Oh! What a great page!
Contact the County Health Department. Having no water is a health hazard and it needs to be reported