POINTS TO REMEMBER NEW TEXAS LAWS REGARDING TENANTS’ RIGHTS TENANTS’ by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott RIGHTS TEXANS WHO LIVE IN RENTED devices to be installed at the landlord’s expense, still refuses to make repairs, the tenants can residences, including apartments and rental including window latches and keyed deadbolt move out – even if their lease has not expired. Under Texas law, tenants have the right to: houses, should be aware of state real estate laws locks on all exterior doors. Landlords also are Alternatively, tenants may make reasonable • Quiet enjoyment of their rental property governing residential leases. required to provide at least one smoke detector repairs themselves and deduct the repair costs • A refund of their application fee if their Tenants’ relationships with their landlords on the ceiling or wall of the apartment. Renters from the rent they owe the landlord. application was rejected and the landlord fails to explain why are largely controlled by their lease or rental who discover that required safety devices are The law also provides protections for tenants • Security devices installed at the landlord’s agreements. Tenants should always request either defective or missing have the right to who are asked to leave their property after a expense, including window latches, deadbolt a written agreement and review it very demand that the landlord resolve the deﬁciency. landlord serves them with a “Notice to Vacate.” locks and a smoke detector carefully with the landlord to ensure they fully The law gives landlords a reasonable amount When landlords ask a tenant to leave, the renter • Dispute their eviction in small claims court understand the contract terms before signing of time, usually about seven days, to install or is not legally required to depart by the date any documents. Renters may ask the landlord repair the devices. indicated on the eviction notice. In fact, tenants The Austin Tenants’ Council and the State Bar to make changes to the lease before it is signed, Landlords also have a legal obligation to cannot be evicted from their rental property of Texas provide additional information on though the landlord does not have to accept the ensure their rental properties do not pose a unless the landlord obtains a court order tenants’ rights, including brochures: proposed amendments. threat to the tenants’ health or safety. However, granting the landlord permission to remove the In many cases, landlords ask prospective landlords are not required to repair uninhabitable renter and the renter’s personal belongings from Austin Tenants’ Council tenants to ﬁll out a rental application, which circumstances that result from damage caused the premises. 1619 E. Cesar Chavez Street tenants must submit along with an application by renters or their guests. Beginning January 1, 2008, landlords Austin, TX 78702 fee. Under a new law that applies to all leases If a landlord fails to repair problems that may insert speciﬁc language into their lease (512) 474-1961 and contract renewals submitted after January impact their tenants’ health, safety or security, agreements to circumvent the eviction process. www.housing-rights.org 1, 2008, application fees are considered the tenants must follow speciﬁc steps to seek Landlords now have the authority to change the non-refundable payments to offset the cost a remedy. First, they must make sure that door locks on rental properties when tenants’ State Bar of Texas of screening rental applicants. In the event their rent is fully paid and no payments are rent payments are delinquent, if they included P.O. Box 12487 an application is refused, the landlord must delinquent. Then, tenants should outline the that authority in the rental agreement. Although Austin, TX 78711 either explain why the tenant was rejected necessary repairs in a written complaint. To the law effectively allows landlords to lock out (800) 204-2222 or refund both the application fee and any prove that the landlord received the complaint, tenants who fail to pay their rent, tenants cannot www.texasbar.com application deposit. In this way, the new law tenants should send the letter via Certiﬁed be legally evicted unless the landlord obtains a protects applicants by guaranteeing that they Mail with a return receipt. When the complaint court order allowing the eviction. Legal Aid www.texaslawhelp.org will learn why they were rejected – or get arrives in the landlord’s mailbox, the U.S. In Texas, legal disputes between residential their money back. Postal Service will require that the landlord landlords and tenants are typically heard in Additional information on this and other topics Tenants also enjoy the right to “quiet acknowledge his or her receipt of the letter by small claims courts. If a landlord ﬁles an is available on the Attorney General’s Web site enjoyment” of their rental property. When other signing a form. If the problems are not resolved eviction suit to remove a tenant, the tenant will at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov. residents are being disruptive or disturbing the and the tenant is forced to take legal action, the be served with an eviction notice. Tenants may peace, tenants may complain to the landlord. signature form will be helpful evidence during appear before a justice of the peace, present Once notiﬁed about a problem, landlords have court proceedings. their version of the facts and explain why they a duty to remedy behavior that disturbs tenants’ Tenants who want to avoid going to court have should not be evicted. Tenants who lose in ability to quietly enjoy their rental residence. a couple of additional options. First, if they’ve small claims court may appeal their loss to a Texas law also requires certain security provided the required notice and the landlord county court.
"Texas Rental Property Laws"