How to Report Unsafe Living Conditions in Texas

By Kristin Jennifer
Broken glass can easily cut someone and should be replaced by the landlord or homeowner.

broken glass in an old window with blinds image by Ivonne Wierink from Fotolia.com

In the state of Texas, renters, children, individuals with disabilities and the elderly have legal recourse to remedy unsafe living conditions. Unsafe living conditions include pest infestations, unstable roofs or floors, and physical and verbal abuse. According to the Office of the Attorney General, anyone who suspects unsafe living conditions for a child must contact the local police or Child Protective Services. Unsafe living conditions involving the elderly or disabled should be reported to Adult Protective Services. Renters can seek a remedy order through a justice of the peace.

Assess whether the unsafe living conditions apply to yourself as a renter, a child, a person with a disability or an elderly person dependent on care from another person. Call 911 to alert the police of any immediate dangers. To make a report to Protective Services, call 800-252-5400. Reports can be made anonymously.

Write a letter to your landlord requesting that living conditions be remedied. Describe the conditions that require remedy in full detail. Make a copy of the letter for your records.

A return receipt on certified mail will be sent to you through your postal mail reflecting that the letter was delivered to and received by your landlord.

Palm Springs Mailbox image by katseye from Fotolia.com

Mail the letter to your landlord by certified or registered mail. You will need this verification to satisfy the requirement that the landlord was properly notified about the need for repair to unsafe living conditions prior to seeking release from lease agreements.

Take photographs of living conditions to exhibit as courtroom evidence if the landlord refuses to remedy the conditions.

Contact an attorney if your landlord does not respond to the letter within seven days. Ask your attorney about terminating your lease based on the landlord's failure to repair. Inquire about the legal viability of deducting any repairs made by you from your rent. An attorney can also offer strategic legal advice, such as obtaining repair estimates and home safety inspections. Alternatively, make an appointment with the justice of the peace. As of Jan. 1, 2010, justices of the peace in Texas have the authority to order landlords to make repairs, as long as the cost of the repair does not exceed $10,000. (Amounts above that must be handled in a civil court.) Present the evidence of the return receipt, copy of the letter and photos of the living conditions to the judge in court.

About the Author

Kristin Jennifer began writing professionally in 2010, with her work appearing on eHow. She has five years of experience working as an immigration specialist in Houston and New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a minor in economics from Barnard College.

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