Apartment rental problem: What are my rights?

Jean Chatzky consumer advice
Jean Chatzky consumer advice

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Q. I recently helped a friend and his elderly mother find an affordable apartment in Houston, Texas. But on the day he moved in, there was trash strewed all over the place, and even a condom in the toilet. He immediately got the management's attention and they promised to clean it right away. They did, but because of the horrible condition, he didn't want to live there and asked for another option. The only other opening was on the third floor, and his mother couldn't go up and down stairs. They initially agreed to let him cancel the contract and refund his money, $793.94, but have since refused. We believe we should get 100% of the money back because we mutually agreed to the cancellation and they stated clearly to us that they were going to refund my friend his money. I've sent them many emails and even a certified letter almost two weeks ago but they won't bother to even reply now. I certainly hope with you can be of help to my friend.
-- Tony Phan