Texas Landlord Tenant Law: an Overview
December 6, 2022
If you own a house or apartment in Texas and want to rent it out, you must know Texas landlord-tenant law. If not, you could put yourself in a world of trouble if you don’t follow rules, which can change from year to year. Luckily, you don’t have to worry as Keyrenter Houston is a local property management company that can help.
The Texas landlord-tenant laws provide both rights and responsibilities to the landlords and tenants who have a rental agreement or lease agreement, according to the current Texas property code in place (Ann. §§ 91.001 to 92.355).
Lease agreements must include all relevant information detailing each of the requirements to ensure a healthy and legal landlord-and-tenant relationship is maintained until the agreement is terminated. The drafted documents are designed to efficiently settle any potential legal issues that develop over time, making it necessary that landlords use clear and descriptive language.
In Texas, the law states that there must be written agreements for any tenancies that occur for at least 12 months (BUS & COM § 26.01). It's still necessary to create a written contract signed by both parties for an extra level of legal security and to ensure both sides are protected. Once the contract is done, landlords must provide the final version to the tenant, and both parties must sign within three days.
The tenant must also be provided a copy of each page of the lease three days after the agreement has ended to settle potential disputes, or if the current tenant no longer has an original copy of the document.
Specific information also needs to be disclosed to the current tenants, including anyone who is permitted to act on behalf of the landlord and the rights of the tenant if necessary repairs aren't performed in a timely manner. There are also other laws protecting renters from discrimination, environmental health hazards, and those who are victims of abuse.
General Lease Provisions
Deposits are not required but are recommended for landlords to collect from tenants. Landlords are required to return deposits within 30 days after the last day of the lease. An itemized receipt must also be provided for any deductions related to a part of the deposit that is not returned.
Landlords are permitted to charge a late fee, at a maximum of 10% per month, but these guidelines must be included in the agreement. There must be a legal grace period of at least one day.
Rental Agreement Notice Requirements in Texas
Landlord-tenant laws in Texas stipulate that rental agreements are required for any tenancies that exceed 12 months but are recommended for all tenancies that occur to avoid legal issues. The tenant is legally entitled to a copy of the agreement within three days of any finalizations that have been made to the document.
There is a certain criterion landlords can use when selecting a landlord, according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Texas Property Code §92.3515. The factors they can consider include:
- Criminal history: the landlord has the legal right to run a criminal history report on all adult applicants.
- Previous rental history: landlords can review the previous rental history of each applicant.
- Credit history: landlords can check the credit history of each applicant to determine if they're credible and if there's any risk involved.
- Current income: landlords can legally request information about the applicant's income to determine if they can afford the monthly rent.
- Failure to provide accurate or truthful information on the application form: the landlord can base their final decision on any information that is falsified on the rental application.
There currently aren't a lot of regulations imposed on landlords with collecting rent. Compared to states like New York, the state of Texas doesn't have rent control measures, allowing landlords to change as much as they want each month with due notice. If they plan to increase the cost of rent, they aren't legally required to notify the tenant of the change in the rental price if the terms of the lease don’t require the notification.
If the tenant decides to pay their rent in cash, the landlord is required to provide a receipt to ensure they continue to maintain accurate records.
Although it can be difficult to manage payments you receive while handling other types of responsibilities as a landlord, our company offers rent collection services for added convenience to ensure you're paid on time each month.
Late Fees Laws in Texas
Landlords are not legally required to charge a late fee if the tenant fails to pay their rent on the correct day. However, most landlords still choose to charge a late fee, which can be a percentage of the monthly rent or a fixed dollar amount. Although this is not a legal requirement, it must be included in the lease agreement.
The Texas Property Code §92.109 states that it must be a reasonable and fair estimate and must be based on the damage that has occurred to the landlord as a result of the payment not being made on time. This encourages landlords to avoid charging too high of a fee, which can prompt them to be legally challenged by the tenant.
Texas Grace Period Law
Landlords are required to provide tenants with at least one day of a grace period with rental payments that are made before a late fee can be added. The number of days of the rent grace period must be detailed in the lease agreement to ensure the tenant is aware of the guideline. If the rent is not paid after three days, the landlord has to wait at least three days to send a “pay or quit notice".
Landlords can freely charge any amount for a deposit due to the lack of limit in place by the state of Texas. If a landlord chooses to require a deposit from the tenant, they're required to return it to the tenant within 30 days of the end of the rental period, minus any deductions that have been made to damages or cleaning fees. All repairs the landlord charges the former tenant for must be completed within 30 days. The deposit must also not be kept for general wear and tear that develops, including to the carpet, paint on the wall, etc.
When Can a Landlord Withhold Security Deposit in Texas?
Landlords are legally permitted to withhold a security deposit if there is property damage that is present, or the tenant fails to pay rent at any time during the lease. The damage to the property must exceed normal wear and tear.
All unpaid rent throughout the lease can be deducted from the deposit. This is where you must tread lightly and make sure to document and have receipts. If you aren’t prepared or have everything in order, a former renter may contest, and you are likely to lose if you don’t have receipts and/or evidence to back up your claims. Remember to tread lightly when it comes to not giving back all or some of the security deposit.
Both landlords and tenants have rights and responsibilities that are put into place by the state of Texas to reduce the risk of conflict and protect everyone involved in rental agreements with tenancies.
Landlord Rights and Responsibilities in Texas
In Texas, tenants are required to identify the property owner and put the details of the individual in writing, which includes their name and address. The property manager must also be included in the agreement with their name and address included. All personal property left behind by the previous tenant can be removed by the landlord after 30 days once they send certified mail.
The tenant must also be notified that the landlord has the legal right to “Repair and deduct or the option to terminate the lease” if repairs aren't made by the landlord that has a direct impact on the health or safety of the current tenant.
If domestic abuse, sexual abuse, or sexual assault occurs, the landlord can also choose to break the lease early. The landlord can require the tenant to provide a form of proof of domestic violence before they're officially released from the lease.
The landlord has a right to collect rent on the agreed date or deduct repair costs if extreme damages occur on the property. Repair services must also be provided by the landlord, according to the "Warranty of Habitability" law.
Tenant Rights and Responsibilities in Texas
Texas tenant rights are pretty simple. Tenants have the right to reside in a peaceful and quiet setting that is safe and healthy to inhabit. The tenant can take legal action if the owner fails to provide a property that complies with the minimum safety and health measures.
Maintaining a good relationship with the landlord requires the tenant to avoid late payments, keep the home in good condition, maintain a healthy environment for other residents and neighbors, and perform any repairs that are not considered to be normal wear-and-tear.
Landlords have the freedom to evict tenants if they cause excessive damage to the property or don't comply with the rules that are outlined in the rental agreement.
Tenants can legally break their lease early for a variety of reasons without having to suffer any repercussions, which allows the tenant to be protected. If the tenant is being harassed or has suffered sexual harassment, they have the freedom to terminate the lease. They must give notice to the landlord and put it in writing within 30 days, but this time frame can be modified based on the circumstances.
Landlords can also evict tenants for criminal activity, breach of terms, and for lack of paying their rent. The landlord is required to send an eviction notice that provides the tenant with three days to remove their possessions and leave the premises.
Known as "forcible entry and detainer," landlords can evict tenants. The most common reason tenants are evicted is due to a non-payment of rent, which causes the landlord to lose money. Once the tenant receives the eviction notice from the landlord, they have three days to leave or resolve the issue.
Although it can be difficult to evict a tenant, you can rely on professional eviction services in Houston. If you hire a professional company to act as the middleman and work on your behalf, this can reduce the risk of conflict during the eviction process.
In some cases, lease termination is permitted and must include a termination letter that notifies the tenant. At least 30 days' notice must be provided to the tenant to ensure they have enough time to find a new residence. Texas law states that for verbal leases or tenancy-at-will agreements, tenants can only terminate the lease by written notice on the last day of the subsequent month
Tenants must also notify the landlord if they want to terminate the written lease. They must still provide the landlord with the rental money they owe them for the lease. The landlord is also required to attempt to find a new tenant to reduce the amount of rental money that the former tenant owes.
If the landlord is unsuccessful in finding a new tenant to occupy the property, they have the right to sue the tenant for the unpaid debt or even send it to collections. This can make it more challenging for the tenant to apply for another rental unit in the future because the unpaid rent ends up on their credit report and will be easy to view by other landlords.
Texas Landlord-Tenant Law: the Bottom Line
Understanding Texas rental laws are critical if you're a landlord and want to avoid legal issues while renting out your property to tenants. Texas state law and federal laws are complicated, but with the services of a professional property management company like Keyrenter Houston, you can protect yourself from potential problems and offer an extra level of security.
Feel free to reach out to our team to learn more information about how we can assist you with our services and make your life much easier.