My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: Texas
First off, I apologize if this is long winded, I just want to make sure I include everything I possibly can about the situation into this post. Any advice is welcome, I have no idea what I should do because this is the first time I've ever experienced this kind of circumstance, and I am not at all familiar with the laws of my state.
That said- what's going on.
I live in an apartment building that houses 30 units, all being studio apartments. There is no on-site managment/leasing office, the building is managed by a property management company that is located across town. They send us statements for our rent and allocated utilities (gas, water, trash- we each get our own electric bill in the mail, the electricity is in each tenants name) every month, and I've always mailed a check/money order back to them. We were given a number to call for 24 hour maintenance in case of any maintenance emergencies after hours. I've never had to call that number before last night, but I learned from that first call that if it is after the "office hours" you just get an answering service.
Our apartments come with electric heater/air conditioner units, and last night, around 7pm, mine, along with everything else plugged into any outlets on that wall, stopped working. Yes, I live in Texas, but I live at the top, and we are experiencing horribly cold temperatures here. When the heat went out last night, the temperature was 2 degrees outside with a windchill of -21. I thought it was only my apartment, so I called the number I was given, got the answering service, and was told that they would pass the message on, but it would probably be "awhile" before anyone got out to check it. After a little investigation, I found out that all of the units on the opposite side of my building did not only not have heat, but they had no electricity, period. Also, none of us had hot water. Everyone had called the answering service, and everyone got told the same thing, meanwhile we are all freezing and cannot do anything about it. I re-called them around 9pm to ask whether or not they had even an estimated time as to when someone would be out to fix the problem, and the woman I spoke to told me, and I quote "I spoke to the owner, and he said they wouldn't be out to fix it tonight, that you guys can just sleep with your stoves on, and they'll fix it the morning". Call me old fashioned, but because of carbon monoxide, etc, I don't feel comfortable leaving my stove running all night in a tiny studio apartment, just because people are too lazy to come out and fix the heat. I decided to just tough it out for the rest of that night and hope for the best when this morning came.
Around 1 a.m, I was still awake, because I couldn't sleep because of the cold. At that time, ALL of the power went out, and it was a blackout for about 15 minutes before things started back up, and the heater was working again. Finally. 6 hours and -26 degrees later.
Moving on to today, the same thing has happened TWICE today now. The first time was early this morning, the heat, and the hot water stopped working. I called (during office hours at that) and the woman said someone would be out to fix it, and they showed up again, hours later. At 4p.m the same thing happened, and I called again, during office hours, and she told me she'd already got several calls from people who live in my building, and she'd "see what she could do." Moving forward to now, it's nearly 8.pm, 6 degrees outside with a windchill in the negative teens, and I've just gotten off the phone with the answering service again. The first time I called, all I got out was "Hi, this is ___ my heater stopped working again a few hours ago" and the woman hung up on me. I called back, same lady told me she never spoke to me, I told her the problem and asked for the owners name and/or number, and she told me she couldn't give it out, and that they had strict instructions to only contact maintenance when it was an emergency. I asked if people being able to see their breath in their apartments because it's so cold was an emergency, and she told me that it wasn't life threatening.
So here I am. I still have power to 1/2 of my apartment, but no heat, and no hot water. I have no idea what to do because clearly the maintenance people, and the people who work in the main office in the day time really don't care. It's not safe, or healthy to not have heat or hot water in these weather conditions, and I'm just looking for any advice anyone has on who I can contact to report this, or what I should do.
I pay my rent on time, and my electric bill on time to ensure I have things like heat, and a roof over my head so I'm not stuck out on the streets. The past two days, it feels like I have been.