Landlord and tenant laws are statutes that govern the rental of residential properties including eviction actions. Tenants and landlords, as well as property owners and managers, are protected under this law. The law states the rights and responsibilities as well as remedies of both parties in a landlord-tenant relationship.
Mandatory Landlord Disclosures
Texan landlords often engaged in the lease or rental agreements must comply to disclose specific information about the tenants such as the identity of someone with authority to act on the landlord’s behalf and the rights of tenants in Texas pursuant to the landlord’s failure to do his obligations. Landlords are required to inform tenants of important Texas laws or individual landlord policies either in the lease or rental agreement, rental forms, or in another written document that may include lessor’s imposition of nonrefundable fees, tenants’ rights to move-in checklists, shared utility arrangements (if any), and the identity of the landlord or landlord’s agent or manager.
Security Deposit and Return
Security deposits are described as “any advance of money, other than a rental application deposit or an advance payment of rent, that is intended primarily to secure performance under a lease of a dwelling that has been entered into by a lessor and a lessee.” In Texas, there is no limit on how much security deposit can be charged by a landlord, but such security deposits must be returned within 30 days after the tenant departs. According to the law, landlords that keep a part or the whole deposit to use it to cover damages and unpaid rent must give an itemized list and description of any deductions made except in cases where:
- The tenant owes rent when he surrenders possession of the premises
- There is no controversy concerning the amount of rent owed.
Under the law, that landlords must keep accurate records of all security deposits. Failure of the landlord to provide a written accounting, the landlord:
- Forfeits the right to withhold any portion of the security deposit or to sue the tenant for damages to the premises
- Is liable for the tenant’s reasonable attorney’s fees in a suit to recover the deposit.
Texas Eviction Laws
For a forcible detainer suit or an eviction to prosper, the tenant must first breach a contract in the lease agreement such as failure to pay the rent or other actions that are explicitly prohibited in the contract. To evict a tenant, a 3-day eviction notice in Texas must first be filed by the landlord. However, a notice to vacate itself is not enough, evictions can only happen after it went to court. If the renting occupant chooses to fight the eviction, he can remain in the property. The landlord must comply with the law which prohibits him from removing the tenant’s personal property from the rental property.
Landlord’s Duty to Repair
The Tenancy laws state that one of the rights as a tenant is to demand the repair of a problem if it “materially affects the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant.” Roof leaks, sewage backups, pests, utility, and wiring faults are some examples that can materially affect the health and safety of the occupants.
For the landlord to be compelled to make necessary repairs, the tenants:
- Must be paying their rent
- Must have informed the landlord of the problem through certified mail or delivery
- Must have not caused the problem unless it was a result of normal wear and tear
In cases of a landlord-tenant dispute, landlords are prohibited from retaliating through:
- Filing an eviction process in Texas without the necessary circumstances allowed by law (tenant violated the contract or undue rent payment)
- Depriving the use of the premises
- Deduction of services to the tenant
- Rent increase or terminate the lease
- Engaging in bad faith any conduct that interferes with the tenants’ rights
If a retaliation prohibited by the State law is made by landlords, the tenant may seek a civil penalty of one month’s rent plus $500, actual damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees in an action for recovery of property damages, moving costs, actual expenses, civil penalties, or declaratory or injunctive relief, less any delinquent rents or other sums for which the tenant is liable to the landlord.
Consulting with an Attorney
If you are a local landlord having tenant issues and wanting to evict a renter or recover money for damages, hiring the services of an attorney will be highly beneficial because of the legal representation required in court. Every person’s case is unique and requires different methods to accomplish. We at Girling Law, PLLC are well-versed with the complicated process of the landlord and tenant law. Giving out notices, filing suits, obtaining rights to regain the place, and representing clients in courts are only a few of what we can do for you. Call us now for a free legal consultation.