Renters' rights and aid for repairs from burst pipes

Many renters have damage from burst pipes in their homes. Some tell us they're having trouble getting their landlord to make repairs. 

Lone Star Legal Aid says for renters, replacing furniture and your belongings fall under renter's insurance.  But fixing the structure of the home falls on the landlord.  

Renters should document the damage with pictures and video and notify landlords of it in writing.

Making repairs & insurance claims for burst pipes

Plumbers and repair services say they are flooded with calls about frozen and broken pipes.

If a landlord is not responding, Meghan Smolensky with Lone Star Legal Aid says, "You have to notify them again, via a written letter of some sort, stating these are my issues, this is what I've already asked you to fix, I haven't heard from you."

She says if, after seven business days, you still haven't heard from your landlord, you can terminate the lease if you're current on rent, or make repairs yourself.

"The second option is 'repair and deduct,' but again that's kind of complicated because you can only deduct up to one month's rent or $500, whatever is the greater value," explained Smolensky.

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"Just over the last week, we've made over 10,000 connections related to the storm," said Amanda McMillian with the United Way of Greater Houston. 

She says calls for help with damage and other needs are pouring in, and the United Way is looking at ways to help people who can't afford repairs. 

"Whether there are tradesmen coming in from other states to help accelerate repairs, or provide direct assistance to be able to manage the cost of those repairs, we're looking at those options right now," said McMillan.

How to give Texas lawmakers a piece of your mind over the winter blackout

Want to give Texas lawmakers a piece of your mind about this week's chaos?

President Biden said he will sign a major disaster declaration that Governor Abbott requested, which will provide broader FEMA aid to people needing repairs.

READ MORE: President Biden says he will sign major disaster declaration for Texas following winter weather

Mayor Sylvester Turner says he's approaching CenterPoint Energy and other companies to create a fund for repairs.

"It will be specifically aimed at people who don't have insurance, don't have the financial means. Their pipes burst, their homes were damaged, to give them some relief," said Turner at a press conference.

If you need help with repairs or other essentials, you can call the United Way Hotline at 211 or go to unitedwayhouston.org/211.

To donate, text HELPNOW to 51555 or go to unitedwayhouston.org/help.

Renters needing legal assistance can apply at Lone Star Legal Aid.