San Antonio couple forced to pay rent on apartment too damaged to live in after February winter storm

Couple says they have been given no firm date on when repairs to unit will be completed

SAN ANTONIO – Earlier this month, Tiffany Carmony and her fiancé, Brady Zygulski, paid rent for their first floor unit at The Redland, an apartment complex on the far North Side, even though they haven’t lived there since Feb. 15.

A water pipe in an apartment above their unit froze and then burst during the frigid winter storm that day, sending water cascading off of a balcony and, more regrettably, into the walls of the building, according to pictures provided by the couple to the KSAT 12 Defenders.

Water falls off a third-story balcony at The Redland apartments February 15. (KSAT)

The couple evacuated the apartment as water flooded into the unit, damaging the structure and many of their possessions and causing the drywall to bubble in several places.

Within two days of the flooding event, mold began to form near the apartment’s windows and along its window sills, according to pictures provided by the couple.

“It smelled horrible inside,” Carmony said.

While apartment management has taken steps to fix the unit, including replacing carpet and gutting walls in preparation to rebuild them, two months after the winter blast, Carmony and Zygulski said they have not been able to get a firm date from management on when the repairs will be completed.

“On top of everything else going on in our lives, we got displaced and we still have to pay rent for an apartment we can’t live in,” said Carmony, seated alongside Zygulski during a virtual interview earlier this month.

Zygulski told the Defenders there has been a continual lack of communication from apartment management about the couple’s living situation, with the exception of reminders when rent payments are due and an offer to use an on-site garage to store some of their belongings.

The ceiling inside Tiffany Carmony's apartment was still gutted as of April 12. (KSAT)

Zygulski said they declined management’s offer to use the garage after being told the couple would have to pay to rent the space, which is not climate-controlled.

Zygulski added that at one point, management offered to temporarily move the couple into a smaller unit on property, but he and Carmony declined after learning that a 70-year-old woman would be displaced as a result.

Reached for comment for this story, a property manager at The Redland said a media relations company retained by the complex would be calling with management’s official statement. To date, the Defenders have not received the promised call.

Gray area of the law

Carmony said the couple will have to pay close to four months worth of rent in order to terminate their lease and has so far shied away from withholding their rent payment, because they fear the complex will take them to court if they do.

While Chapter 92 of the Texas Property Code requires landlords to provide renters housing that is habitable, it also allows landlords to collect damages in some cases if a renter withholds rent, causes repairs to be made or makes rent reductions for repairs without providing proper notice.

The couple said they have already paid more than $2,200 for rent and utilities since evacuating, even though the unit was still missing walls as of this week.

Carmony said she found standing water and mold in the bathroom area of the apartment as recently as April 12.

About the Authors:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

Joshua Saunders is an Emmy award-winning photographer/editor who has worked in the San Antonio market for the past 20 years. Joshua works in the Defenders unit, covering crime and corruption throughout the city.