Landlords demand rent for flooded homes from Hurricane Harvey victims

Landlords demand rent for flooded homes from Hurricane Harvey victimsVictims of Hurricane Harvey have spoken out after landlords demanded rent from their flooded, uninhabitable homes. As they piece their lives back together, buying new furniture and other belongings after replacing those lost and finding alternate accommodation, some have been slapped with fees from landlords, who demand rent for the flooded homes the victims had to flee. Rocio Fuentes told The Guardian she has been asked for money by her landlord. She said: "Our landlords say we have to pay rent and late fees and every day it is going up. "We are paying rent for somewhere we can’t live in. They said ‘you aren’t the only ones in this situation’, but what are we supposed to do? We don’t have any money. We don’t have anything." Texas property code states that if a property is "totally unusable" due to a disaster then either the landlord or tenant can terminate the lease through written notice. Homes were destroyed in the flood Credit:  Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg However, if the property is deemed "partially unusable" because of a disaster, a tenant may only get a reduction in rent determined by a county or district court. Many people are still living in shelters and relying on handouts to live after Hurricane Harvey. More than 203,000 Texas homes were damaged or destroyed by Harvey, which dumped as much as 52 inches (132 cm) of rain across the region and killed as many as 60, according to authorities. Some of those homes are still flooded. Two area reservoirs will for at least another 10 days release water into an overflowing drainage system to relieve pressure. That has some advising homeowners to demolish their homes, rather than repair them. Hurricane Harvey shelter evacuated after more flooding 01:21 For those displaced, finding a new place to stay could prove difficult. "It's going to be really tight now," Hall said. For the city's home sales, which were already soft because of a two-year oil price downturn, Harvey adds yet another kink. Some "For Sale" signs on properties around the city are already bedazzled with notices to entice prospective buyers: "Did Not Flood." "Home sales are probably going to have a stigma for a while until we have things cleaned up," said Jennifer Fuller, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Memorial. "I would advise anyone with water in their home to keep all documents related to remediation and take pictures so they can put the future buyer at ease about what was done." Hurricane Harvey: rescuers reach people trapped on vehicle roof as waters rise 00:59 It's not clear, though, if there'll be much of a demand for homes that were waterlogged. "I don't know that I would want to own a house that has been sitting in water for more than a day or two," said David Stone, owner of Texas Fine Homes, a residential home builder in Houston. After Melinda Loshak's one-story home in the city's Meyerland neighborhood flooded two years ago, she and her husband renovated it and put it on the market. With no prospective buyers, they leased it, only to see it flood again last week. "It doesn't make any sense to repair this house if it's just going to flood again," she said. Additional reporting by Reuters.



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