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Texas Landlord-Tenant Laws

Texas Landlord Tenant LawsThis article is intended to be an online resource for Texas landlords.  We summarize key Texas landlord tenant laws that are most applicable to residential rental units.

This article is not qualified legal advice.  Individuals seeking guidance need to work with a legal advisor who is qualified in the jurisdiction.  Laws and statutes may vary from county to county or city to city, this article provides state level laws and statutes. 

Also, laws and statutes are subject to change and may cause sections of this article to be outdated.  We provide links to assist landlords and tenants to the state statute page for further research.

Click here if you are seeking renters insurance in Texas.

 

Quick Facts for Real Estate Investors Considering Texas

Texas landlord-tenant laws are considered Landlord friendly.

There are 28 million residents in Texas.  Major metropolitan markets in Texas are:

  • Dallas: Estimated population of 7,540,371, which 40% of residents are renter occupied.
  • Houston: Estimated population of 6,997,384, which 39% of residents are renter occupied.
  • Austin: Estimated population of 2,227,083, which 42% of residents are renter occupied.
  • San Antonio: Estimated population of 2,550,960, which 35% of residents are renter occupied.

 

 

Jump to Different Arizona Landlord Tenant Laws

 

 

TEXAS TENANT SELECTION CRITERIA LAWS

 

Under Texas statute (Texas Property Code Chapter 92.3515), landlords are may legally deny an applicant for any of the following reasons:

  • Criminal History
  • Previous Rental History
  • Current Income
  • Credit History
  • Failure to Provide Accurate Information

 

This may also include any of the following:

  • Open Bankruptcy
  • Collected filed by PM Company
  • Any eviction or unlawful detainer
  • Illegal drugs: used, possessed or sold
  • Registered / Unregistered Sex Offender
  • Domestic Violence Charges (how many?)
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Likelihood that applicant unwilling or unable to pay rent
  • Likelihood that applicant interfere with right of peaceful enjoyment of the residential community
  • Likelihood applicant intentionally damage or destruction to property or surround premises
  • Legal and verifiable social security number

 

 

SECURITY DEPOSIT LAWS IN TEXAS

 

Does Texas require security deposits?

Texas does not require security deposits.

 

Is a security deposit receipt required in Texas?

Texas does not require landlords to provide a receipt of security deposit.

 

How much security deposit can a landlord charge in Texas?

In Texas, a landlord can charge any reasonable limit for security deposit.  No Statue

 

Can security deposits be commingled with other assets in Texas?

Texas landlords can commingle their security deposits with other assets.  However, it is always recommended to keep them separated.  Texas has no statute

 

Do landlords have to pay interest on security deposits in Texas?

Landlords are not required to pay interest on security deposits.

 

When must a landlord return the deposit by in Texas?

In Texas, landlords have 30 days to return the security deposit. 

 

When can a landlord in Texas withhold security deposit?

At the end of a lease, the landlord is required to return the tenant’s security deposit.  However, landlords may withhold all or portions of a tenant’s security deposit if:

  • Unpaid rent with no controversy regarding the amount of rent owed
  • Damage in excess of normal wear and tear

Landlord must include a list with the remaining security deposit within 30 days of tenant moving out.  This must include paid receipts indicating the cost of repairs.  Landlords are required to fix said items within 30 days.

In Texas, if a lease agreement specifically allows Notice of Surrender, tenants may request for their security deposit sooner than the 30-day state requirement.

 

 

Require written description / itemized list of damages and Charges?

Landlords are required to provide written and itemized list of damages, sent via .  (Texas Property Code §92.104)

 

 

What happens to Texas landlords that fail to comply returning the security deposit? 

When landlords in Texas fail to comply with state law (Texas Property Code §92 Subchapter C), they can be penalized three times the amount wrongfully withheld.  According to the penalty statue listed at (Texas Property Code §92.104).

 

 

RENTAL AGREEMENT LAWS IN TEXAS

 

 

 

Rental agreements required in Texas: 

Tenancies 12 months or longer in Texas require a rental agreement.  If tenancy is less, it is still encouraged to create a written rental agreement.  If you need a lease, Burbz offers an online Texas rental lease agreement.

 

 

What are the rental agreement notice requirements in Texas: 

Fixed-End or Year-to-Year: at least 1 month.
Month-to-Month: At least 1 month, however tenant or landlord can have set different durations if in writing or more from lease expiration.
Week-to-Week: At least 1 week. 

In general, Texas landlords must provide notice that is equal to the frequency of rent payments.  For example, if tenant pays rent quarterly then the landlord must provide at least a quarter’s notice. or more from lease expiration.

 

 

Does the lease automatically renew in Texas? 

Landlords can add renewal clause in the lease agreement.  Most leases will indicate upon expiration of the lease that the lease either renews for the same duration (i.e. yearly) or goes month-to-month.  Either party can decide not to renew; landlords reasons cannot be retaliation or discrimination related.

 

 

Rent Increase Notice:

No Statute. (92.012)

 

 

Rent Grace Period for Residential:

Tenants have one day before rent is considered late and fees may be charged.

 

 

 

LATE FEES AND LIMITS IN TEXAS

Late Fees for Residential:

Landlords may charge a reasonable amount allowed but not legally required.  (Texas Property Code §92.109)

 

 

Limits to late fees in Texas:

A reasonable estimate of uncertain damages to the landlord that is incapable of precise calculation and result from late payment of rent.  The late fee must be based on some damage to the landlord”.(Texas Property Code §92.109)

 

 

 

TEXAS LEASE TERMINATIONS / NOTICES TO QUIT

In Texas, lease agreements between landlords and tenants can be terminated.  Read our blog for landlords about handling early lease terminations.  Here are the cause and effects:

 

What is the Pay or Quit for Nonpayment requirement in Texas?

Texas requires three days to remedy or quit. 

 

 

How many days must a landlord allow before terminating for a Lease Violation? 

If the tenant breaches the Lease Agreement, Texas requires landlords to provide 3 days to remedy or quit. 

 

 

How many days when terminating for Falsification of Information?

No Statue

 

 

 

TEXAS LAWS ON REPAIRS

 

Texas tenants are legally allowed to make repairs and deduct the cost from rent.  However, the following protocol must be followed before doing so:

 

How many days must the tenant give for non-emergency repairs?

7 days.  If the landlord fails to address the problem, the tenant may fix the problem if it is less than $500, or an amount equal to 1 month’s rent, whichever is less.  (Texas Property Code §92.051)

 

 

Can tenant withhold rent for landlords’ failure to provide essential services (i.e. water, heat, etc.)?

Yes.  (Texas Property Code §92.061)

 

 

If the landlord fails to take necessary action, then the tenants can legally:

Texas allows tenants to:

  • Terminate the lease early and vacate the property
  • File suit for damages and an order requiring the landlord to address repairs
  • Deduct cost from rent after repair
  • Notify local code inspectors about the problem
  • Repair the problem themselves
  • Continue to live in the rental until lease expires

 

 

 

TEXAS LANDLORD RESPONSIBILITIES

 

 

What must the landlord provide in good and working order?

Texas defines certain responsibilities for landlords, including:

  • Must comply with all applicable building codes affecting health and safety
  • Must keep all common areas in a clean and safe condition
  • Must supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water, at all times.
  • Must maintain facilities and applicances in good and working order, including:
  • Smoke alarm
  • Hot water, capable of above 120 degrees F

 

 

Do landlords have to provide appliances and services?

No Statute.

 

 

 

TEXAS EVICTION LAWS

Texas requires a landlord to file a ‘forcible entry and detainer‘ or ‘forcible detainer‘ suits action to evict a tenant.

 

Landlords may evict tenants for the following:

Any reason that is not violating Fair Housing Laws on discrimination

 

 

Eviction Process for Landlords:

1.  Notice
Landlords must provide the tenant with proper notice of the eviction proceedings.  Landlords are required to deliver notice by hand or by registered and certified mail.

2.File Suit
Landlords must file suit with a sworn statement seeking judgment against a tenant at the justice court.

3.Summons
Both parties receive a summon for a date of the eviction hearing.  Tenants also receive a copy of the complaint.  If the tenant decides to fight eviction, the tenant must be present at the hearing.  Failure to be present at trial may result in default judgement being entered against the tenant.

4.Appeal Bond
At the judgment hearing, the justic court may state an amount of appeal bond that the tenant must pay.  Failure to pay the bond can result in eviction.  Tenants may contest bonds.

 

 

Are landlords allowed to lock out tenants by changing locks?

Landlords cannot change locks.

 

 

Tenants may not be evicted for non-payment of rent if:

  • If rent was paid by the tenant during the one day grace period, then the landlord cannot proceed with the eviction.
  • If the tenant pays rent after the one day but before the eviction was filed by the landlord, Texas law states the tenant is  to stop the eviction.  The tenant must pay all delinquent rent and fees.

 

 

 

TEXAS LAWS ON RETALIATION

 

Texas laws state a landlord cannot terminate a lease, refuse a lease renewal or raise rents when:

  • Exercises or attempts to exercise in good faith again a landlord a right or remedy
  • Tenant has provided a notice to repair and/or exercise their right to remedy
  • Tenant has complained to government agency for code violations or utility problem
  • Attempts to and/or establishes, or participates in a tenant organization

 

If a landlord responds negatively within six months, it is assumed to be retaliation.

 

 

 

LAWS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, SEXUAL MISCONDUCT, AND SEXUAL ASSAULT

A landlord cannot discriminate against prospective tenants or tenants because they have been a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, rape or stalking.

 

 

Verify Claim:

A landlord is allowed to verify claim of Domestic Violence. 

 

 

Can a tenant terminate the least if they are a victim of domestic violence: 

Texas state law says a tenant with proof of Domestic Violence status is allowed to terminate the lease without penalty.

 

 

 

 

TEXAS LAWS FOR LOCKS AND LANDLORDS

 

 

Are landlords requested to change locks before new tenants: 

Before new tenants moves in, landlords are not required to change the locks.  It is always recommended to do so.  (Texas Property Code §92.153)

 

 

Are landlords required to install any specific security device: 

Landlords are required to provide or install security devices. 

Landlords are required to provide:

  • deadbolt lock
  • pin lock
  • security bar lock
  • window latch

In Texas, landlords have 7 days after the tenant vacates to rekey all security devices, from key or card, that are exterior doors or windows.

 

 

When a landlord fails to install or rekey security devices within the 7 days, a tenant may:

  • Install or rekey security devices themselves and deduct cost from the next rent payment.  Must be reasonable cost of repair.
  • Send a written request / notice to the landlord.  Landlord has 3 days to comply or the tenant may terminate the lease early.
  • File suit against the landlord and, if successful, obtain a judgment forcing the landlord to comply

 

 

 

TEXAS PET LAWS & PET POLICIES

 

Texas Landlord-Tenant Laws does not have any specific pet laws.  Landlords are legally allowed to create their own pet policies and requirements.  Including tolerance for breeds, size, types, and more.  Read our guide to pet policies.

 

 

DO LANDLORDS IN TEXAS NEED A RENTAL LICENSE?

 

Accord to Texas Landlord-Tenant Laws, landlords do not need a rental license in Texas.  Landlords and owner of a residential rental property, is not required to register the property. 

Landlords apply through the local township’s website.  The township will schedule and inspection and, if passed, landlord will receive their signed and dated rental license.

 

 

NOTICE OF ENTRY LAWS IN TEXAS

 

 

Do landlords in Texas have to provide notice of entry?

Landlords are required to provide notice but no period Is specified notice for normal circumstances entry.    This includes:

  • Non-emergency maintenance and repairs
  • Showing prospective tenants the unit
  • Stopping excessive noise
  • Showing unit to any government agency

 

 

When can a landlord enter without notice: 

Landlords may enter:

  • Emergencies
  • Removing safety or health hazards
  • Repairing appliances needed to maintain tenant health (i.e. HVAC)

While Texas Landlord-Tenant Laws states landlords do not need to provide proof emergency, tenants who believe their landlord entered unlawfully can request for proof of the emergency.  Landlords can provide notices from utility companies or a gas report for proof.

 

 

Can landlords enter for non-emergency maintenance and repairs?

Yes, although no notice period is specified.  (Texas Property Code §92.081)

 

 

Can landlords enter for showings?

Yes. 

 

 

Can landlords enter for emergencies without notice?

Yes. 

 

 

Can landlords enter during Tenant’s extended absence?

No statute. 

 

 

Can landlords enter for pesticide use?

No statute. 

 

 

 

 

TEXAS SUBLEASE AND ASSIGNMENT PROVISIONS

 

 

Is subleasing permitted?

Yes  (Texas Property Code §91.005)

 

 

Do you need the landlord consent?

Yes 

 

 

Can the LL / lease prohibit subletting?

Yes 

 

 

 

 

TENANT ABANDONED PROPERTY IN TEXAS

Texas has specific procedures that landlords must follow when tenants leave belongings.  This may be from evictions or moving out at the expiration of lease.

 

How long must landlords hold Tenant’s personal property?

Landlords must hold onto the tenants personal belongings 30 days after landlord sent a first class and certified mail, with return receipt requested to the tenant’s last know address.  (Texas Property Code Chapter 54.045)

 

 

Can the landlords sell property to pay for outstanding debts?

Yes.  (Texas Property Code Chapter 54.045 (C))

 

 

What happens to excess proceeds?

Any excess proceeds shall be mailed to the tenant at the tenant’s last known address, within 30 days of sale..  (Texas Property Code Chapter 54.045 (D))

 

 

How long must landlords keep records of the sale for?

Landlords are legally required to keep records of the sale for no set length.  However, landlords must provide accounting records within 30 days of the tenants written request..  (Texas Property Code Chapter 54.045 (D))

 

 

 

 

REQUIRED RENTAL AGREEMENT DISCLOSURES FOR TEXAS LEASES

Texas Landlord-Tenant Laws require the following be included with all Rental Agreement Disclosures:

Lead Paint Disclosure:  Yes.  Federal law requires every landlord to disclose known information on lead-based paint and hazards.  Landlords must provide this EPA-approved pamphlet.

Owner or Agent Identity:  Yes 

Utility Disclosure:  Yes 

Landlord’s towing or parking rules policies:  Yes, if there is a towing or parking rules at a multi-family property that applies to the tenant.  Tenants must sign a copy to include in the lease agreement. 

Electric service interruption:  Yes, if electrical service is provided by the landlord.   

 

 

 

HELPFUL RESOURCES

Texas Property Code Ch. 91 Provisions Generally Applicable to Landlords and Tenants

Texas Property Code Ch. 92 Residential Tenancies

Texas Property Code Ch. 93 Manufactured Homes

Texas Property Code Ch. 24 – Forcible Entry and Detainer

Texas Property Code Ch. 54 – Landlord’s Liens

Texas Constitution and Statutes

Texas Real Estate Commission

 

 

TEXAS RELATED COURT INFO & LINKS

 Texas Small Claims Court Limits:  $10,000 is the minimum for small claims court. 

Texas Small Claims Court

Texas Attorney General

 

 

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