Local nonprofit offering legal aid to Villa Town residents - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Local nonprofit offering legal aid to Villa Town residents

Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas provides legal help for those who can't afford an attorney (source: KCBD video) Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas provides legal help for those who can't afford an attorney (source: KCBD video)
Some residents at Villa Town are still wanting a refund after paying their full month's rent (source: KCBD video) Some residents at Villa Town are still wanting a refund after paying their full month's rent (source: KCBD video)
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

While residents of Villa Town are still wondering which way to turn, attorneys at a local nonprofit say they are prepared to help residents fight for their money back from management at Villa Town - if that's what it comes to.

The nonprofit is called Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, which exists to help people who can't afford an attorney.

We spoke with an attorney at the branch here in Lubbock to see what rights these residents might have.

We first met Rita Narbaez on Monday, when Villa Town residents were handed a letter from management without warning, saying they needed to leave immediately.

Narbaez says she paid her son's rent up front, $610.19 for the month, and would have been good until May 3.

Villa Town general manager Paul Hewitt, who only allowed us to record his voice, said this when asked if he had any information regarding refunds for the residents forced to leave.

"No, no. they took all of our, just took all of our source of income away. So I don't know, we're waiting for attorneys to find out what's going to happen."

So Narbaez came back to Villa Town on Tuesday to get proof that her son moved out.

"This is a paper saying that he got out today. So that way they cannot, the owner cannot say 'Well she never got a paper saying when he got out.' They could turn around and say 'Oh he stayed the whole month.' I have plenty of witnesses saying he got out today," Narbaez said.

Managing Attorney at Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, Tamara Duncan, says documents like the one Narbaez received could help any resident wishing to get a refund.

"Any documentation such as a receipt, documents they may have signed there, letters they've gotten from the owner. Any of that would be very important for a lawyer to see to help assess the strength of their case," Duncan said.

Duncan says in a long-term stay motel situation, they have to look at whether it is an innkeeper/guest or a landlord/tenant relationship.

Hewitt told KCBD he refers to his residents as guests.

"To me they are always guests. So they sign a registration card and pay their rent," he said.

Duncan says even though a guest would have fewer rights, they still have a chance to fight it.

"I would at least think that they have the ability to recover money paid in, when they didn't get to stay. At a minimum," Duncan said. "I think the owner would have an obligation to refund that. Hopefully they'll be able to come to an agreement and refund that as quickly as possible. These are people who paid probably every cent they have to stay there. Now they have no money and no place to stay."

Duncan says she encourages Villa Town residents to reach out.

"That's why we're here. And we're happy to be able to help and offer a remedy to people who have no other place to go."

You can call the Lubbock branch office of Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas at 806-763-4557.

They have an advice hotline which runs M-F from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. you can call at 1-888-529-5277.

Copyright 2017 KCBD. All rights reserved.

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