Know your rights: Your wages may be garnished for a student loan

By Richard Alderman
June 29, 2013 at 1:29 a.m.

I owe money for a student loan. I was told that if I did not promptly make arrangements to pay they would garnish my wages. I thought wage garnishment was illegal in Texas?

As a general rule, wage garnishment is prohibited in Texas. There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule. Wage garnishment is permitted for child support, certain taxes and student loans. In other words, what you were told is true.

I own a condo. Recently, the tenant upstairs left the water running and caused damage to my unit. I called the owner, and he filed a claim with his insurance company, but it denied the claim. The tenant has no renter's insurance, and my own insurance isn't enough to cover the cost of damages. What can I do? I really need to get my place repaired, but the owners are now not returning calls. I feel it shouldn't have to come out of pocket.

For someone to be responsible for damage done to your condo by the leak, he must have been negligent. There is no liability simply because someone owns or rents the unit. As far as the owner is concerned, I don't see any way he has liability. He did nothing wrong. Whether he has insurance does not matter. The insurance company pays only what the person insured would be responsible to pay.

The tenant, on the other hand, appears to have been negligent by allowing the water to run and flood your unit. Negligence means not acting reasonably, and a reasonable person would not leave the water running. Based on his negligence, the tenant is responsible for all the damage caused by the water.

If he had insurance, he could file a claim with his insurance company to cover this liability. Even if he does not have insurance, he is still liable. Whether someone has insurance does not affect liability. I suggest you demand the tenant reimburse you. If he doesn't, consider small claims court.

How much notice is an employee entitled to before he is fired? I showed up for work last week and was fired. Am I entitled to two weeks' notice? This doesn't seem fair.

As a legal matter, you are not entitled to any prior notice. Unless you have an employment contract or union agreement that says otherwise, you may be fired with no prior notice. Your employer may not have treated you fairly, but from a legal standpoint, it had the right to do what it did.

Richard Alderman, a consumer advocate popularly known as "the People's Lawyer," is a professor at the University of Houston Law School in Houston. His column appears weekly in the Victoria Advocate. Write to him at UH Law Center, Houston, Texas 77204-6391. He also maintains a website at



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