WSFA 12 special report: Renters Rights - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

WSFA 12 special report: Renters Rights

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Imagine if your home was infested with bed bugs and roaches, and the landlord refused to do anything to fix the problem.

WSFA 12 News reporter John O'Connor spoke to a Montgomery family who experienced these problems in their apartment. In this special report, we show you what renters can do to fight back against unbearable living conditions.

In 2007, the Alabama legislature helped balance the scales between landlords and tenants, which has given renters concrete steps they can take when the home they pay to rent is unlivable and the landlord won't help.

Resident Daneen Long describes her experience at the Ashton Apartments in Montgomery as something she hopes to never have to experience again. Long and her family moved into the apartments in March of 2012 and it has been one issue after another.

"This is the worst place I have ever lived," Long said. "I'm a saved woman, and I pray to God that I never have to live this again."

Long mentioned that they have to keep a rag stuffed in the corner of the apartment to keep roaches out, and that the faucet does not function properly.

Long brought these issues up to the apartment managers in 2012, but it went nowhere. Then she informed the apartment's new management in February, but again her concerns have fallen on deaf ears.

"I refuse to just lay down and continue to take it," Long said. "I don't think it is right. I think if I pay rent, I work not one but two jobs, and I feel like if I pay my rent that everything in here that needs to be done; needs to be done.

Nothing was being done to fix the situation. Management even told Long that she would have to pay $150 to move into the vacant apartment across the hall.

Despite the frustration, Long did two things that any renter who is having trouble getting problems fixed should do. First, make sure to continue paying rent, and secondly document everything.

WEB EXTRA: The Alabama Tenant's Handbook

"You have to give the landlord notice in writing requesting that they fix it," said Gibson Vance, a lawyer at the Beasley Allen Law Firm. "And that's key, document everything you do."

In Daneen's case, she has letter after letter after certified letter.

"You give them notice and they have 14 days to repair the problem," Vance said. "And if they don't repair the problem in 14 days, then you can take steps to move out and not be responsible for the remainder of the lease."

After a year and a half of problems, Daneen had enough. She moved out the night WSFA 12 interviewed her.

"I'm not just doing this for me and my family, but I'm doing it because there are some people here who have gone thru and are going thru the same thing and who feel like they would be retaliated against," Long said.

If you have a situation where your place of residents is unlivable and your landlord is not doing anything to fix the problem, there are multiple agencies to contact.

Tenants can contact the Alabama Department of Public Health, the City Building Inspections Division or read the Alabama Landlord and Tenant Act located on the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development website.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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