If you own properties in Texas, it's crucial that you understand the Texas landlord tenant laws. This will help you become aware of your duties as a Texas landlord and protect tenant rights.
It will also help you operate within the legal framework when it comes to everything from eviction to handling a security deposit.
If you're considering a real estate investment in New Braunfels or the surrounding area, you'll want to be familiar with local legislation. So, without further ado, here's your guide to the Texas landlord tenant law:
Required Landlord Disclosures in Texas
Under Texas' law, Texas landlords are obligated to disclose certain information to tenants in the rental agreement. The following are the disclosures:
1. Nonrefundable Fees
In Texas, nonrefundable fees are permitted so long as it is agreed upon in the rental property agreement.
2. Security deposits
Under the Texas state Law, there's no maximum limit Texas landlords charge for the security deposit. However, when the tenancy ends, a landlord is obligated to refund the security deposit within 30 days. You also must disclose where you keep all security deposits.
The tenant must also be provided with a detailed list of the deductions made to the security deposit. If not, the landlord won't be able to charge or hold the security deposit. If a landlord fails to do any of this in regards to a tenant's security deposit, they can be charged.
3. Rights of domestic violence victims
Victims of domestic violence may vacate the unit without penalties. In fact, they may even do so without sending a notice to the landlord. The tenant must submit a temporary injunction and a temporary ex parte protective order or a final protective order. Once the tenant provides these documents as evidence, the tenant won't be penalized for breaking the leasing agreement early.
If a Texas landlord tries to hinder a tenant's attempt to break a lease, the landlord will be penalized.
4. Owner or agent identity
Under the Texas State law, an agreement must contain the following:
- Name and address of the landlord/rental owner
- Name and address of the management company if the owner hired one.
Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
These are the basic renter rights in Texas.
Under the Texas landlord tenant laws, tenant rights are:
- The right to quiet enjoyment inside the unit. This means Texas tenants can enjoy peace and quiet.
- A right to a secure home. This means landlords must install solid locks and other security measures. If a landlord refuses to do this, it can be seen as refusing to make the home safe.
- The right to a healthy and safe home environment. Hence, the landlords are tasked to maintain and repair damages that will affect a tenant's health and safety.
- The right to remain in the unit unless there's a breach of the lease. In other words, a landlord can't evict a tenant without cause, even if other tenants file complaints.
- The right to not be a victim of housing discrimination, as per the Fair Housing Act and their fair housing rights
- Ending a lease early if experiencing a violation to the lease agreement, even without an early termination clause. This consist of things like landlord harassment or being ignored after requesting repairs
These are the basic tenant responsibilities in Texas.
By Texas law, a tenant needs to:
- Practice cleanliness inside the home as well as in the common areas
- Inform the landlord of any damages or maintenance issues
- Dispose of the garbage properly and practice proper sanitation
- Pay rent on-time every month and any late fees they may be charged
- Follow the rules, policies and regulations in the rental agreement and those that are mandated by local, County and State laws
If a tenant fails to do any of these things, they're subject to eviction via written notice by their landlord for breaking the terms of the lease.
Landlord Responsibilities and Rights
These are the basic landlord rights in Texas.
Under Texas law, a landlord may:
- Be provided with a minimum 1-month notice when the renter decides to move out
- Enter the unit without notice in emergency situations
- Charge late fees for late rent
- Early lease termination if the tenant breaks the lease agreement, like accumulating unpaid rent
These are the basic responsibilities of a landlord in Texas.
Landlords need to:
- Make the unit safe and habitable for the Texas tenants as per the Texas Property Code. It's your duty to repair any issues in the unit.
- Comply with the Fair Housing Act. It's a landlord's responsibility to know about the protected classes. You can't refuse to rent to someone based on these classes.
- Inform tenants about the necessary disclosures.
- Wait at least two days before charging a late fee for the tenant not paying rent on time.
An Overview of the Texas Landlord Tenant Laws
1. Tenant Privacy and Landlord's Right to Enter the Unit
Unlike other States, landlords in Texas don't have specific notice periods to conduct unit inspections by law. This will depend on the conditions stipulated in the lease. Property owners may enter the unit if:
- There's a court order issued
- Repairs and inspections need to be performed
2. The Condition, Maintenance, and Repairs
Maintenance is a major landlord responsibility. Hence, a landlord needs to keep the unit habitable and fix any damage caused by normal wear and tear by:
- Ensuring that electrical, lighting and plumbing are in excellent condition
- Making sure that the windows and doors in the unit are secure
Failure to make any necessary repairs will be seen as a violation of your tenant's rights.
3. Texas' Housing Discrimination Laws
Based on the Fair Housing Act, a landlord must avoid discrimination of the 7 protected classes. These classes include color, religion, race, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status. As long as the tenant is able to pay rent and pass standard tenant screening procedures, they should not be denied equal treatment or renting opportunities due to being a part of a protected class.
4. Security Deposits
A landlord requires a security deposit (usually about 2 months' rent) to cover for:
- The repairs of any damages caused by tenant negligence
- Damages resulting from a tenant's breach of contract
5. Required Landlord Disclosures
Landlord disclosures should be printed in the lease agreement, as per the landlord-tenant law.
The disclosures are as follows:
- Landlords must disclose the presence of lead paint, especially if the home is built prior to 1978.
- Landlords must provide their tenants with information on all those involved with managing the unit. This may include providing them with a list of names and addresses.
6. Renters' Rights to Withhold Rent
Under Texas landlord-tenant law, a tenant pays to have a home that is up to code and in good working condition. If a landlord fails to perform his responsibility to address repairs, tenants may:
- Arrange a lawsuit to force a landlord to make the needed repairs, which would require you to seek legal counsel
- Terminate the lease early and have no obligation to pay more rent
- Repair and deduct by fixing the damage to the rental unit and subtracting the repair fees from the their rent payment
7. Small Claims Lawsuits
If there are issues regarding security deposits, tenants may file a lawsuit against the landlords. They may proceed to the Texas Justice Court for the return of their security deposit.
Bottom Line: Texas Landlord Tenant Laws
As a property owner in Texas, there are many Texas landlord-tenant laws you need to be familiar with as most landlords may not be aware of every specific law. The Texas state and federal laws pertaining to a landlord's responsibility and rights is one of the most vital laws for you to understand. We hope this blog was informative.
For further inquiries about the landlord-tenant law or property management, contact Limestone Country Properties.
Please note that this blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in Texas. Laws frequently change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other legal aspect of your business.