In an ideal world, a landlord would have tenants that always pay rent on time, respect all the rules and state laws, and stay long-term. Alas, it is not an ideal world. It’s not uncommon in Texas for tenants to break the terms of their rental agreement. Regardless of the validity of the reason, breaking a lease agreement is a matter of serious concern.
If you’re a landlord in Texas, you have to be prepared for when your tenants fail to abide by their lease. In this article, we’ll cover the basics: the ways to break a lease, legally justified reasons for breaking a lease, and what you should expect afterward.
If you have questions about your specific case, it’s best to consult with a Dallas/Fort Worth landlord attorney.
Common Ways to Break the Lease
- Terminating the lease early.
- Failing to give the landlord sufficient notice when looking to move out/vacate the property.
- Subletting or subleasing the property when it’s against the terms of the lease.
- Unauthorized installation of equipment
- Keeping a pet
- Repainting the property
Legal Reasons to Break a Lease in Texas
Some reasons for breaking the lease are legally justified. When this happens, the former renters would face no enforceable penalty at all. Here we list down some instances when breaking a lease is legally justified. If you’re not sure whether your tenants are justified in breaking the lease, contact our Dallas/Fort Worth landlord law firm.
Violation of tenant’s privacy rights
Tenants’ rights include the right to enjoy their home in peace. You cannot just barge into the premises whenever you please. A landlord has to inform the renter of their visit at least 24 hours prior. The timing must also be during a reasonable period.
There must also be a valid reason for entering the property. Here are a few plausible reasons:
- Court order
- Showing prospective buyers the property
- Necessary repairs
Landlord harassment is not an issue to be taken lightly. It’s a grave lease violation and gives the tenant a valid reason for breaking the lease.
Some examples of acts that may count as landlord harassment include:
- Refusal to make required repairs
- Changing locks
- Construction-related nuisance
The Rental Unit is no longer Habitable
Landlord-tenant law in Texas provides habitability laws that landlords must comply with. Otherwise, the court would deem that the tenant has been “constructively” evicted. Make sure to comply with these obligations to avoid giving the tenants a legal reason to break the lease.
The Tenant is a Victim of Domestic Abuse or Stalking
A tenant can justifiably break a lease if they are the victim of stalking or domestic abuse, under the Texas Property Code. You may request legal proof of these, like court documents or a restraining order before lease termination.
The Tenant is a Member of the Uniformed Services
Tenants on active duty are protected under the SCRA (Servicemembers Civil Relief Act). All the tenant needs to provide is 30 days’ notice before they move out of the dwelling.
Uniformed services include members of the National Guard, the Armed Forces, the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Public Health Service.
What Happens After a Tenant Breaks their Lease in Texas?
If your tenant breaks their lease, then one of the things you must do is to make efforts to find another tenant to replace them. This helps you mitigate the negative consequences of the termination of the lease.
If you find a replacement tenant, then the other tenant may only be liable for only a portion of the remaining rent.
Even if they pay the rent, there may be other costs that your tenant has to pay after breaking the lease. It’s possible to charge them for expenses of screening new tenants or advertising the unit.
What Do I Do Now?
The best thing to do after a tenant breaks the lease is to contact an attorney to make sure that the proper procedures are followed to make sure it’s legally binding. Certain things have to be done right, like a notice for the tenant violating the rental agreement.
Girling Law, PLLC offers a full range of legal representation to independent rental owners and apartment communities. Contact our Forth Worth landlord attorney now!