Under Texas law, a lease becomes valid once a landlord accepts rental payments in exchange for living in the rental unit. At this point, landlords become bound by the provisions of the statewide Landlord-Tenant Act.
The Texas landlord-tenant law specifies the rights and responsibilities of each party, and under which circumstances the lease can be terminated.
Whether you’re looking to familiarize yourself with Texas tenancy laws or simply want to learn more, the following basic overview of the laws should get you started.
Required Landlord Disclosures in Texas
Before a tenant can sign the lease, the law requires you to provide them certain important disclosures first. They are as follows.
- Disclosure on lead-based paint. Was your rental property built prior to 1978? If so, you must provide your tenant with information regarding lead paint concentration.
- Disclosure on the authorized agent. You must let your tenant know of the name and address of the person authorized to manage the unit they will be living in.
- Disclosure on the right to Repair and Deduct. Texas tenants have a right to repair and deduct when it comes to maintenance issues.
Under Texas law, if the landlord fails to respond or make repairs, the tenant is legally allowed to make repairs and deduct the amount charged from their rent. Before lease signing, you must let them know of this fundamental right they have.
- Disclosure on late fees. Will you require your tenants to pay a late fee when rent becomes overdue? If so, you’ll need to disclose that in the lease agreement.
- Disclosure on parking rules. Do you own a multi-unit complex and have parking rules and restrictions? If so, you must let your tenant know of the details before they sign the lease.
- Disclosure on emergency phone number. You must also provide your tenant with an emergency phone number for use during emergencies.
Texas Tenant Rights & Responsibilities
Under Texas law, tenants in Texas have the following rights under the state’s Landlord-Tenant Act. They have a right to:
- Make repairs and deduct the costs from the rental payments
- Live in a habitable premises that abide by all state-and local habitability codes
- Live in peace and quiet enjoyment
- Withhold rent if the landlord fails to make repairs that affect the health and safety of the tenant
- A legal lease or rental agreement
- Remain on the residence until the landlord has taken the proper eviction procedure
- Join or form a tenants’ union to advocate for their rights
The following are some responsibilities for tenants in the state of Texas. They are responsible for:
- Keeping the unit in clean and sanitary living conditions
- Paying rent without fail every month
- Pay the required security deposit
- Informing the landlord when maintenance issues show up
- Notifying the landlord when away
- Respecting the privacy of other neighbors or tenants
- Taking care of damage that results in their carelessness or negligence
Landlord Rights & Responsibilities in Texas
The following are some of the rights landlords in Texas have. They have a right to:
- Enter rented premises to carry out important duties
- Make changes to the terms of the rental agreement
- Know when a tenant is looking to leave for an extended period
- Make appropriate deductions to a tenant’s security deposit under certain situations. For example, when a tenant causes property damage exceeding normal wear and tear
- Charge a pet rent depending on the type of pet a tenant keeps
- Evict a tenant for failing to comply with the terms of the lease agreement
Equally, landlords are responsible for:
- Abiding by the state’s eviction process when evicting a tenant
- Making requested repairs promptly
- Making sure the property complies with all habitability codes
- Providing renters a proper notice before entry
- Maintaining the property’s peace and quiet
- Treating tenants with respect and fairness
An Overview of the Landlord-Tenant Laws
1. Landlord Entry
Landlords are required to provide their tenants with proper notice prior to entry. The Texas landlord-tenant law, however, doesn’t specify exactly how much notice they should serve. Nonetheless, most landlords serve their tenants a notice of at least 24 hours prior to entry.
It’s also equally important that the timing be reasonable. Try not to disturb your tenant during very early or late hours when they may be sleeping or out.
Common reasons for landlord entry include to inspect the unit, under court orders, and to show the unit to prospective tenants.
2. Changing of Locks
For property owners, Texas landlord tenant laws permit lockouts in certain situations. For example, you may be able to change the door lock for a tenant who stops paying their month’s rent. Your lease must, however, have a provision allowing this is the rent remains unpaid.
In addition, in Texas, you may only be able to change your tenant’s locks just once in each rental period.
3. Housing Discrimination
The Fair Housing Act criminalizes all forms of housing-related discrimination on prospective tenants. The protections are specifically on the basis of certain characteristics, including race, color, sex, religion, familial status, and national origin.
The following are some actions that can be deemed discriminatory:
- Stating that a unit is unavailable just to avoid renting to a tenant with a particular characteristic
- Screening prospective tenants using a differing criterion
- Harassing or verbally intimidating a tenant
- Refusing to make reasonable accommodations to a disabled tenant
4. Rent Control
Current state law prohibits any kind of policy that can lead to rent control on either the state or local level. This means that you can charge whatever amount of rent you wish.
5. Lease Termination
A tenant may be able to terminate their lease agreement early without penalty for certain reasons. They include:
- To start an active military services
- If the unit is no longer habitable
- In case of landlord harassment
- If the tenant becomes a victim of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault
- If the lease contains an early termination clause
Other than these legally justified reasons, a tenant may still be liable for paying the remainder of rent remaining under the lease.
6. Security Deposits
Landlords must also abide by certain security deposit rules when it comes to their tenant’s security deposit.
For example, in Texas, landlords have a maximum of 30 days to return part or all of their tenant’s security deposits after they move out. Wrongful withholding can make you liable for paying up to 3X the withheld amount, plus court costs and attorney fees.
Knowing the landlord-tenant laws in Texas are an essential part of being a North Dallas landlord. If you’re still unsure about anything pertaining to the law, get in touch with our team at Keyrenter North Dallas! We’ll guide you through everything you need to know.
Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney. Laws frequently change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Get in touch with us for expert legal help.