WREG looks at renters’ rights after devastating storm


Photo: WREG

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s been exactly one month since the destructive and powerful Memorial Day storm, also known as the Tom Lee storm, hit, affecting tens of thousands of families.

On Tuesday people across the Mid-South are still cleaning up and have a long road to go until recovery.

WREG talked to one woman who is now homeless after the apartment was severely damaged.

Now she’s at a loss for what to do.

When you look the crumbling brick apartment complex in the South Memphis apartment off Henderson Place, it looks as if the storm wasn’t a month ago. The damage is still startling.

A gaping hole is in the roof after a tree plunged through. The force was so strong it knocked a chimney over.

Jennifer Harris’ belongings inside were tossed like trash.

“They trying to save the apartment, we just came to see if anything was savable,” she said.

Harris is now staying in different motels, just trying to get by. Her landlord paid for her to be in a motel for three nights, but Harris and the landlord have since ended the terms of the lease. She did not have renters insurance.

“It’s very frustrating with me being sick and all because I have strokes, I don’t work. It’s very frustrating,” she said.

Harris’ former landlord told WREG he did everything in the terms of the lease and the damage was God’s work.

WREG talked to Seth Segraves of the Working Law Firm, who handles tenants cases.

When it comes to renters’ rights after a storm blows through, it depends what a renter is entitled to. If the storm damage makes a house uninhabitable, the renter probably does have a claim for reimbursement of rent or substitute housing. However, each case is different.

Segraves says the bottom line is to have renters insurance.

“Your TV, clothes, computer, dishes, whatever you have in your apartment, unless you have renters insurance, it’s not covered. And really, renters insurance is way too affordable for someone not to have it. You can get a basic policy for $20 a month,” he said.

Another tip from Segraves is make sure you get everything in writing.

“You can’t just call the landlord and say my roof is leaking. You have to write them. I don’t care how you do it if it’s on an online portal, if it’s with a letter, an email, make sure it’s written and preserved.”

He also said to make sure you’ve paid your rent up to date, and if you have questions, contact an attorney.

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