HOUSTON - Several families tell us they've had an inch of raw sewage inside their Houston apartments for 10 days. The City of Houston Health Department has now gotten involved.
The tenants say the sewage is putting their health at risk, and that their clothes and furniture are damaged. The landlord and plumbing companies tell us they've been working to repair the broken sewage system since they learned of it early last week.
"It's horrible, horrible. I can't sleep because I can't get to the bed," said tenant Chinettia Fontenot.
Fontenot says the floor of her apartment and four of her neighbors at the Sungregor Apartments at 3631 N. MacGregor Way have been covered with sewage for the last ten days.
"It's coming from the bottom of the toilet, the base of the tub, backing up from the cesspool out there," she pointed outside. "There's a hole. Nothing but mud and feces."
She says they called management and the City of Houston Health Department, which posted a notice of the health hazard on the front office window.
We called the building owner, Efrem Sewell, who says he called a plumber right away, but the company failed to fix the problem.
That plumber tells us they repaired what they could early last week, but informed Sewell they didn't have a camera to see broken pipes under the building, and the problem was bigger than they could fix.
Since then, Sewell says he hired another plumbing company, which was working when we arrived.
After FOX26's Damali Keith called Sewell Tuesday, he gave the tenants hotel rooms to stay in.
The Better Business Bureau says renters with a health hazard should notify the landlord and Health Department in writing and can ask for a temporary place to stay.
"If they're not and you find the need to have to do that, and you have to protect yourself and your family, keep receipts," said Carolina Petriciolet with the Better Business Bureau.
Texas law says that if tenants notify a landlord of a problem in writing twice and it's still not repaired, tenants can break a lease.
These renters hope their problem is fixed soon.
"That's above feces, contaminated water. I'm sick. I can't be in nothing like this," said Fontenot.
Sewell says he just bought the complex two months ago and is fixing it up. He says he'll pay for hotel rooms until the pipes are fixed, and pay to clean their apartments.