The Texas rental lease agreement is the most important document between landlord and tenant. It describes the different rights and rules that apply for both parties. You must have a detailed and well thought out lease to prepare you for the many different circumstances that you might encounter as a landlord.
Who Should Sign the Lease?
The names of every adult should be included in the Texas rental lease agreement, regardless if they are married or unmarried. Each adult that is named in the lease should sign the end of the lease as well. This document then becomes binding against every tenant that has signed their name to the lease. That means that they are all responsible for the rent. If the rent does not get paid, you can sue each of them for the full amount owed. It also means that if one tenant breaches any term of the lease, the lease may be terminated for all of the other tenants too. It is important to note that you cannot sue the tenant’s minors for any of the tenant’s obligations under the lease.
Who Can Live in the Apartment?
Tenants are allowed to live in the apartment with their minor children and occupants. In order to avoid overcrowding or undesirable occupants, you can limit the number of occupants in the apartment in the Texas rental lease agreement. If the tenant goes over the limit of occupants or sublets the apartment without your consent then this can be grounds to terminate the lease.
What Is the Length of the Tenancy, and Can You Charge Other Fees?
The Texas rental lease agreement must specify the length of the lease and the monthly rent. The agreement should also specify what day of the month the rent is due and if there is any grace period. There should be a late fee provision which states how much late fee would be charged if the rent was late.
There is no limit on how much you can charge for a late fee or for a bounced check fee. You should state whether payment can be made in certified funds or personal check. You should also state the full address to where the rent payments should be made.
When to Retain Security Deposits and When to Return Them
There are no limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit. The typical charge is one or two month’s rent. The landlord must return the security deposit within 30 days after the tenant vacates the premises. The tenant should give you their new address so that you know where to mail the security deposit.
The purpose of a security deposit is to pay for the damages caused by the tenant. The damages must be other than normal wear and tear and are attributable to the tenant’s misuse, abuse or neglect of the apartment. The landlord can use the security deposit for reimbursement of his costs to repair the damages.
You must make sure you keep your receipts as proof of your expenses in repairing the damages to justify retaining the security deposit or for returning a portion of the security deposit. You can also retain the security deposit and apply it to rent arrears if the tenant vacates the apartment and still owes rent.
Obligations of Repairs and Maintenance Should Be Clearly Explained in the Lease
You must provide a habitable apartment that includes working heat, electricity, plumbing and running water. It should be written in the Texas rental lease agreement that the tenant must keep the premises clean. The agreement should also state that they are liable for any damages caused by their abuse or neglect. If there is a condition that needs to be repaired, the tenant should notify you of this condition. You are obligated to repair conditions that were not created by the tenant’s neglect or abuse.
If you are notified of a condition that needs to be repaired and you do not repair the condition, the tenant may repair the condition on their own. The tenant may deduct the cost of the repair from the amount of rent owed but they cannot deduct more than one month’s rent or $500.00. If the condition is materially affecting the health and condition of the tenant, this condition must be repaired by the landlord.
When Can You Enter the Premises?
It is important to include in the Texas rental lease agreement the circumstances under which the landlord can enter the premises. You should include language authorizing you to enter the premises in circumstances such as in an emergency, to show the apartment to a prospective tenant, and to make repairs. You should still provide advance notice of at least 24 hours. The Texas statutes do not state a specific amount of time of advance notice, but 24 hours advance notice is reasonable. Of course, if a true emergency occurs, such as a fire, then advance notice may not be necessary.
When Can You Terminate the Tenant’s Lease?
The tenant’s lease may be terminated for failure to pay rent, breach of any other provision of the lease and for being convicted of public indecency. In the case of non-payment of rent, you must give a three-day notice to vacate before you begin eviction proceedings. The tenant has this amount of time pay the rent arrears or to move out. If the tenant has not done either, you may file for an eviction.
The tenant may also terminate the lease if a condition exists that is endangering his/her health or safety and you have failed to repair the dangerous condition after receiving notice. The tenant may also terminate the lease if they provide proof that they are a victim of domestic violence. A protective order from the court should suffice as such proof.
What Are the Required Disclosures in a Texas Rental Lease Agreement?
There are certain terms that must be stated in every Texas rental lease agreement. You must include:
- your name and address
- the name and address of any property manager or agent
- whether or not the premises can be sublet
- language that the tenant, as a victim of domestic violence, may break the lease
- your right to enter the premises and remove a deceased tenant’s property from an abandoned premises 30 days after providing notice to a tenant’s contact person
- the tenant’s right to deduct the cost of repairs made to the premises ($500.00 or no more than one month’s rent ) if you have been notified and fail to repair a condition that materially affects the health and safety of the tenant
Contact an Experienced Attorney to Draft or Review Your Texas Rental Lease Agreement
When it comes to drafting a Texas rental lease agreement, it’s important to have the legal advice of a seasoned professional. At Girling Law, we can work with you to tailor your lease to meet your specific needs. Our Dallas Rental Attorney will also advise you on various different legal matters. Call us at (817) 764-1335 to discuss your options today.