Two new pieces of legislation supporting people who live in rental apartments show that lawmakers have taken a hard look at their responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of constituents.
Residents of “all-utilities-paid” apartment complexes now have a little more protection from the threat of landlords who don’t pay the utility bills. The new law states those tenants must now be given advance notice if their utilities will be disconnected due to nonpayment.
Cactus Inn and Suites owner Young Marrero offers approximately 30 all-utilities-paid, extended-stay apartments at Cactus Apartments located next to her motel on U.S. Highway 190 in Copperas Cove. She said she pays her buildings’ utilities bills on a regular basis.
“I always pay, so I don’t have a problem,” she said. “That’s what we offer to the tenants and it’s our responsibility to provide it, because we promised it.”
Marrero did say paying the bills is a difficult responsibility for landlords when tenants don’t do their part by paying the rent.
“If they don’t pay the rent, then I’m paying for everything. So that’s the only problem,” she said. “Right now, I have all good tenants.”
The second piece of legislation embarks on a path to help those who reside in an apartment setting and are victims of domestic violence. The new law allows individuals to break their leases for safety reasons.
There are some stipulations to ensure the law is not taken advantage of, such as requiring a signed protection order from a judge be shown to the landlord.
Copperas Cove resident Dee Dee Wyss lived through a scenario like this in 2013, before the new law went into effect. It has blemished her credit, and she said it is difficult, especially when there are children involved.
“I did move and break my lease to protect my kids,” said Wyss, who was a victim of domestic violence.