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Central Texas experienced historic winter weather the week of Feb. 14, with a stretch of days below freezing. Sleet followed snow followed freezing rain, leading to a breakdown of the electric grid and widespread power outages. Water reservoirs were depleted and frozen pipes burst, leaving some without service for days.

Thousands Of People Living In Austin Apartments Still Don't Have Water. Here's What To Do If That's You.

Volunteer Jake Nobles at a water distribution event held by the City of Austin and Travis County at the ACC Pinnacle campus in West Austin on Sunday.
Gabriel C. Pérez
Jake Nobles volunteers at a water distribution event held by the City of Austin and Travis County at the ACC Pinnacle campus in West Austin on Sunday.

Austin tenants continue to collect water from communal pools, spigots and nonprofits while property managers try to get pipes damaged from last week's storm repaired.

Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros told City Council members Thursday that his department estimates anywhere from 200 to 400 apartment or condominium complexes in the city are currently without running water.

“That’s changing rapidly, but that’s a very large number,” Meszaros said.

If you’re currently living without water, here’s what you should know.

Should I alert the City of Austin?

Yes. The city says it is struggling to compile an accurate list of which apartment complexes are still without water. Call 311 to let the city know.

Juan Ortiz, director of Austin’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department, said the department will need to confirm with property managers or landlords, so it might be a good idea to encourage managers at your complex to call 311, too.

Ortiz told council members his department is trying to verify a list of multifamily buildings without water.

Will the City of Austin bring me water?

Meszaros said Austin Water is working to provide water for tenants. That could include helping nonprofit groups bring water to apartment complexes or providing access to fire hydrants that tenants can collect water from, he said.

What rights do I have if I can't have full use of my home due to lack of water? Can I break the lease?

Housing lawyers and tenant advocates recommend you put any repairs you need in writing to your landlord, even if the landlord or property manager already knows about it. You can also alert Austin’s Code Department to the issue.

According to the Austin Tenants Council, renters are not entitled to prorated rent because of interrupted utilities.

As for getting out of a lease, Texas property law states that if an apartment is "totally unusable" after a “casualty loss” — which could include a natural disaster — either the landlord or the tenant can terminate a lease in writing, but only before repairs are made.

Audrey McGlinchy is KUT's housing reporter. She focuses on affordable housing solutions, renters’ rights and the battles over zoning. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AKMcGlinchy.
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