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Many tenants at apartment complexes are without habitable homes, so what to do?

The Austin Code Department said call 3-1-1 if your apartment management is not providing updates or a plan of action after the winter storm damage.

AUSTIN, Texas — Some residents who live in an apartment are still without water or a home fit to live in after the winter storm damage. 

"The only dry room where they didn't take out carpet is my bedroom in here," said Rosemont at Oak Valley apartment resident Kecia Prince. 

Prince said the rest of her three-bedroom apartment got soaked from leaks upstairs during the winter storm.  

"That's the roof, it was buckling, the walls were buckling and they had to take all of that out," she said. 

Prince said the leak from upstairs happened Friday. She said that, on Saturday, maintenance removed the soaked carpet and drywall, but after that communication was scarce and she was left wondering where she will live. 

"They didn't say nothing about what they could do for me or nothing like that," said Prince. "They said a lot of people's pipes are busted and we are working as fast as we can and you just need to be patient."  

Emily Blaire with the Austin Apartment Association said that's all many landlords can do right now due to a supply shortage.  

"The supply chain has been tapped right now to get the right equipment and experts on sights to access and fix these pipes and plumbing infrastructure that is damaged," said Blaire. 

Mathew Noriega with the Austin Code Department said if your apartment has structural damage and it's uninhabitable, call 3-1-1 if your landlord isn't helping.

"The owner is required to accommodate them and put them somewhere where they can at least live at a sister property or, as I mentioned, maybe within the complex or maybe there is another unit available to them," said Noriega.  

It's not just if your home is completely uninhabitable. Noriega said, in general, if your apartment management is not providing updates or a plan of action to fix your unit after the winter storm, call 3-1-1. 

Noriega said the City will come out and access the complex or unit and give the management two days to come up with a plan of action. If nothing changes, they will give management notice of violation. If the negligence continues, the City will file affidavits or charges for code violations.

Prince said after KVUE and the Austin Tenants Council contacted management, they gave her options like moving to another unit or terminating her lease. 

"All I can say is we will survive, it will take some time," said Prince. 

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