KEYE-TV - Search Results
Northwest Austin Apartment Fire Victims No Longer Required To Sign Agreement
Tenants who lost everything in the International Residence apartment fire called KEYE TV news for help. We investigated and got answers. The tenants had been required to sign an agreement before getting back their deposit and pro-rated rent. The agreement released the apartment complex from liability. We went straight to management and asked the tough questions.
A representative from the Austin Tenants Council called the agreement unconscionable because the Texas property code clearly states when there is a casualty loss, like the fire, tenants have the right to terminate their lease contract and receive their deposit and pro-rated rent. Now, the management company, Trinity Property Consultants, is no longer requiring tenants to sign the agreement.
In a statement to KEYE TV news, Mike Earl, the Chief Operating Officer of Trinity Consultants said:
"Trinity Property Consultants is aware of the terrible distress caused to our residents because of a fire, just five days before Christmas, that destroyed 70 occupied units at International Residence Apartments. In our 14-year history we have not experienced a tragedy of this magnitude, and acted quickly to help in every way we can, and will continue to do so.
Within 48 hours of the fire, on Dec. 20, 2012, we issued a check returning the deposit and a pro-rated share of the monthly rent to residents forced out of their apartments. As of today, 62 residents have received their full refund with only eight who have yet to claim their check - but can still do so without the release required.
In addition, we immediately began working closely with several organizations — including the Red Cross, Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army and others — to help our residents find temporary housing, clothing, food, holiday decoration and toys for their children. We deeply appreciate the assistance of those organizations.
We continue to take steps to provide additional help to our residents through a relief fund for the displaced residents. Donors can help the residents by visiting our website at http://www.internationalresidenceapts.com/blog or http://fundly.com/international-residence-fire-relief-fund."
Nekesha Phoenix of the Austin Tenants Council thinks the property manager definitely made the right choice. But what about the dozens of people who already signed the agreement? Phoenix says, "I don't think that it is enforceable, but If they're really concerned about it, now that management has put out a statement they're willing to not have people sign those statements, they should go back to management and ask if they can rescind that document."
Phoenix also says it's important to submit a written termination notice, regardless if the apartment complex requires it or not.
By Lydia Pantazes