Some tenants in the Braes Timbers neighborhood say their complex isn’t cleaning their flooded apartments, or letting them move.
“This is a serious bacteria. The black mold can get into your lungs and it can kill you. It’s really serious. We have little kids, some even so little, they need to be carried; babies. If they would give us a letter that would let us out of our lease, and says we are leaving the property because of Hurricane Harvey, then we would be able to take our children and our families to a safe place to live that is out of the black mold,” said Jose Berrios, a St. James Place Apartments resident.
Many of the residents of the apartment complex, with the help of Texas Organizing Project, held a press conference Saturday with a number of demands for management, who they say, have left them no choice.
The residents allege they’re being told they can’t break their leases without violating their agreement.
This has left many families falling on a double edged sword: stay in the apartments as the black mold spreads, or move; stop paying rent, and risk affecting their credit scores.
While City Councilman Michael Kubosh was speaking in support of the tenants, St. James Place owner John Quinlan approached.
“Are you telling me that if these folks who can’t get back in their apartments, because some of them, I’ve been in them, are devastated. If they were to leave, would you hurt their credit,” asked Kubosh.
“Absolutely not. Anybody who needs to leave as a result of the storm, they would be free to leave, they would not be showing as breaking their lease,” answered Quinlan.
“Will you give them a letter to that effect?” rebutted Kubosh.
“I will give them a letter to that effect. Absolutely,” the owner said finally.
As KHOU left the apartment complex, there was a line of people waiting to get their letters so they can leave, and others being assigned apartments on the second floor, or at other properties. Texas Organizing Project says they believe the only reason management complied, is because cameras were rolling, and want to see if St. James really comes through.
This story originally appeared 9/10/2017 on KHOU.