Landlords and tenants in Texas each have certain rights and responsibilities. These are outlined in the statewide Landlord-Tenant Act. These rights and duties become active the moment you and your tenant sign the lease agreement.
The following is a basic overview of the Texas landlord-tenant laws.
Required Landlord Disclosures in Texas
You must provide your tenant with specific information before they sign the lease. They are as follows:
- Disclosure on the use of lead-based paint. Under federal law, you must warn your tenant about the use of lead-based paint and its potential hazards. This is required if the property you are renting out was built before 1978.
- Disclosure of your tenant selection criteria. Before screening a tenant, you must disclose certain information regarding your tenant selection process. Specifically, you must provide them your tenant qualifying criteria and the reasons their application may be rejected. Acceptable reasons for denying an application include a relevant criminal past and a low credit rating.
- Disclosure of certain information in the lease. You must provide the tenant with additional information, such as security deposit refunds, electric service interruption, right to repairs, late fees, and parking and towing rules.
- Disclosure on utilities. If you agree to provide and pay for gas, water, or electric services, you’ll become liable for any inconveniences that may occur. For instance, if the utility company cuts off the gas supply to your Austin, TX tenant because of an unpaid bill.
Landlords Rights & Responsibilities in Texas
The following are some of the rights landlords have in Texas. They have the right to:
- Enter rented premises to perform important obligations, such as inspecting the unit or perform repairs.
- Evict a tenant for not abiding by the terms of the lease agreement. For example, failing to pay rent when it’s due.
- Increase the rent amount while abiding by rental and leasing laws.
- Be served with an appropriate written notice when tenants are looking to leave their premises.
As for the responsibilities, Texas landlords and expected to :
- Provide a unit that is livable per the Texas Warranty of Habitability.
- Ensure the tenant lives in peace and quiet, away from any unreasonable disturbances or annoyances.
- Follow the eviction process in accordance with the state’s laws.
- Abide by all terms of the lease agreement.
- Make requested repairs promptly.
Renters Rights & Responsibilities in Texas
Renters in Texas have the following rights under Texas law. The right to:
- Remain in their rented residence until the landlord has followed the proper eviction procedures.
- Live in a property that meets the basic safety, health, and building codes.
- Enjoy the property in quiet and peace, devoid of unnecessary annoyances.
- Be served a notice when the landlord is looking to make changes to the terms of the lease agreement.
- Have repairs made within a reasonable period.
Your tenants also have certain responsibilities to uphold, including:
- Abiding by all terms of the lease agreement. For example, not to illegally sublet the property or exceed the rental limit.
- Taking care of the unit.
- Letting the landlord know when they are going to be away.
- Informing the landlord when maintenance issues occur.
- Keeping noise levels down.
- Serving proper notice to the landlord when looking to move out of the unit.
Overview of the Landlord-Tenant Laws in Texas
Early Lease Termination
Unforeseen life events may occur resulting in your Austin, TX tenants need to move out of their rented premises before the end of their lease period. Generally, Texas tenants who break their lease are liable for paying the remainder of the rent due under the lease.
That being said, if their reason for breaking the lease is legally justified, then all they may need to provide you with is proper written notice and proof.
The following are legally justifiable reasons for breaking a lease early:
- Domestic violence, assault, and/ or stalking
- Landlord harassment
- Uninhabitable unit
- Active military duty
- Early lease termination clause
The following reasons, however, don’t offer legal justification for breaking the lease agreement:
- Moving to get closer to the new place of work
- Moving out to downsize or upsize
- Divorce or separation
In Texas, you must provide your tenant with proper notice before entering their rented units. That said, the specific notice period isn’t specified under the statewide laws. Ideally, you should provide your tenant with at least 24 hours notice before entering their unit.
You must also select a time that is reasonable for the entry to occur. That is, between 8 A.M. and 6 P.M. during weekdays.
Some of the common reasons for landlord entry in Texas include:
- Removing unauthorized window coverings.
- Preventing waste of utilities.
- Changing filters, testing, or replacing smoke detector batteries.
- Making repairs or replacements.
- Responding to tenant’s request.
Housing Discrimination in Texas
The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against tenants based on their protected classes. The classes include race, color, religion, disability, sex, familial status, and national origin.
Actions that can be considered discriminator include:
- Offering different leasing conditions to different renters
- Lying about the availability of a rental space
- Posting rental ads that directly exclude certain groups
Texas Laws on Eviction
You can evict your tenant for violating the terms of the lease/ rental agreement. Common violations in Texas include:
- Non-payment of rent
- Excessive property damage
- Disturbing their neighbors
- Not moving after the lease term has ended
When evicting a tenant, you must follow the state's legal eviction process. The eviction must not, for instance, be based on discriminatory or retaliatory reasons.
What’s more, you must not use “self-help” eviction tactics, such as locking your tenant out or removing their personal belongings from the unit. These are illegal eviction tactics.
As a landlord in Texas, you must understand the rental laws to protect you and your tenants. These laws are subject to change therefore you must stay up-to-date on them.
If you would like help staying informed on the rental laws or would like assistance managing your properties, contact the experts at Rollingwood Management Inc. today!
Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for expert legal advice. Laws change and this information may not be up to date at the time you read it. For expert help, please get in touch with a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company.