Texas Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on Texas landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the Texas Landlord Tenant Code.

TN Landlord Tenant Law:

  • Texas Property Code Title 8, Chapter 92 - Residential Tenancies
  • Texas Property Code Title 4, Chapter 24 - Forcible Entry and Detainer

Tenant Application

Application Fees

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging around $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

You can screen tenant applicants with a background check or full credit report from RentPrep.

A background check will show a person's history of addresses, evictions, bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

A full credit report comes with a basic background check, credit check plus criminal check. A basic background check shows a person's history of addresses, evictions and bankruptcies.

Landlords do not need the tenant or applicant's consent to run background and credit checks.  Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)

Avoiding Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from discriminating against prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, *familial status, national origin or physical/mental handicap.  42 U.S.C. § 3604

*Familial status - pregnant women and families with person(s) under 18.

However if the dwelling has four or less rental units and the landlord lives in one of them, then he or she won't have to follow the above Fair Housing laws.  42 U.S.C. § 3603(b)

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Tenancy Agreement

(also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement)

Whether you're a landlord or tenant, it's important to have a written lease agreement with terms and conditions that favors you and follows your state laws.

To save time and avoid mistakes, you can customize your own lease agreement at LawDepot. This site will ask you a set of questions related to your tenancy and create a state-specific agreement based on your answers.

Once the lease agreement is signed, Texas landlord tenant law requires the landlord to give the tenant a signed copy within three days.  Tex. Prop. Code § 92.024.(a)

Required for Tenancy Agreement

Texas landlord tenant law Tex. Prop. Code § 92.201.(a) requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:

  • Name and address or property owner or owner's agent (person authorized to act on behalf of owner)
  • Name and address of person authorized to manage the property
  • Disclosure and information of lead-based paint in the property (for housing built before 1978)

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

Disallowed for Tenancy Agreement

According to Texas landlord tenant law Tex. Prop. Code § 92.006, your lease agreement CANNOT:

  • waive the landlord's duties for security deposits, security devices, smoke alarms and utilities
  • waive the landlord's liability when he or she has failed in the above duties
  • waive or limit the landlord's duties for property maintenance except for situations in Tex. Prop. Code § 92.006.(d),(e),(f)
  • prevent the tenant from terminating the lease if he or she is a victim of family violence  Tex. Prop. Code § 92.016
  • prevent the tenant from terminating the lease if he or she deployed in the armed forces  Tex. Prop. Code § 92.017
  • limit or restrict the tenant from demanding a trial by jury over tenancy disputes

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Security Deposit

Deductions and Returns

Valid reasons for security deposit deductions under Texas landlord tenant law Tex. Prop. Code § 92.104.(a) include:

  • Rent owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Costs and losses incurred by landlord due to the tenant violating the rental agreement

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.

Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit within 30 days. [Tex. Prop. Code § 92.103] This list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing.  Tex. Prop. Code § 92.104.(c)

If the landlord fails to follow Texas landlord tenant law for deducting and returning security deposit, the tenant can sue the landlord for three times the amount of deposit wrongfully withheld plus $100 plus attorney fees.  Tex. Prop. Code § 92.109

Change of Property Owner

If the landlord transfers his or her ownership of the property to another person by sale, assignment, appointment or death, the new owner will be responsible for refunding any security deposit or prepaid rent to the tenant at the end of the tenancy.  Tex. Prop. Code § 92.105

The new owner has to give the tenant a signed written notice stating who has taken over the property and how much deposit amount he or she is responsible for.

The previous owner is no longer responsible for the tenant's deposit once he or she transfers the deposit to the new owner OR the new owner takes over responsibility for the deposit.

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Houston, Texas TX

Texas Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

Late Rent

There are no Texas landlord tenant statutes on imposing charges for late rent payments.

If the landlord wants to impose late rent charges, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement. While there are no state laws on late fees, landlords cannot overcharge or impose unfair terms. Otherwise the tenant can refuse to pay and challenge the late fees in court.

Most states consider reasonable late fees to be around 3 to 5% of the rent amount. In addition, landlords should wait until rent payment is at least three days late before charging late fees.

Raising Rent

There are no specific Texas landlord tenant statutes on raising rent.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When can the landlord raise the rent?
  • How many days notice does the landlord have to give before raising the rent?
  • How many days notice does the tenant have to give if he or she is moving out due to the rent increase?
  • Maximum amount or percentage of rent increase (optional)

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Property Maintenance

If Landlord Fails to Maintain Property

If the landlord fails to maintain the property (and it affects health and safety), the tenant can give the landlord a written notice stating the problem and giving the landlord a reasonable amount of time (seven days in most cases) to fix it.  Tex. Prop. Code § 92.056.(b)

If the landlord fails to make repairs in time, the tenant can do one of the following:

  1. The tenant can terminate the lease agreement.  Tex. Prop. Code § 92.056.(e)
  2. The tenant can make repairs and deduct the cost from rent (IF repair costs don't exceed one month's rent).  Tex. Prop. Code § 92.0561
  3. The tenant can file a lawsuit to obtain a court order (that requires the landlord to make repairs) and/or recover damages.  Tex. Prop. Code § 92.0563

If Landlord Fails to Provide Utilities

If the landlord has agreed to pay for water, gas or electricity and these utilities are being cut off due to nonpayment, the tenant has two choices:

1. The tenant can pay for utilities and deduct the cost from rent

After paying for the utilities, the tenant must give the landlord a copy of the utility bills.

2. The tenant can terminate the rental agreement

The tenant can terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord a written 30 day notice to quit. In this case, the landlord has to return all security deposits and prepaid rents (after deductions) to the tenant.  Tex. Prop. Code § 92.301

In addition, the landlord can sue the landlord for actual damages (e.g. moving costs, utility connection fees, storage fees, lost wages) plus court costs and attorney fees.  Tex. Prop. Code § 92.301.(b)(6)

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Property Access

There are no Texas landlord tenant statutes on when and how the landlord can enter the property.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When does the landlord require the tenant's permission to enter the property?
    Examples: Making repairs, supplying essential services, inspecting for damages, showing property to prospective buyers or tenants
  • How long in advance should the landlord inform the tenant before entering the property?
  • When is the landlord allowed to enter the property without the tenant's permission?
    Examples: Handling emergencies (such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion), tenant has abandoned the property
  • What are the penalties if the tenant refuses the landlord's valid request to enter the property?
  • What are the penalties if the landlord enters the property without the tenant's permission or without a valid reason?

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Subletting

Texas landlord tenant law disallows subletting unless the landlord agrees to it in writing.  Tex. Prop. Code § 91.005

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San Antonio, Texas TX

San Antonio, Texas TX

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Before terminating a month to month tenancy, Texas landlord tenant law requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit one month in advance.  Tex. Prop. Code § 91.001

TENANT

If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:

Tenant is a victim of family violence

30 days

Tenant is deployed in the armed forces

See below

Landlord failed to maintain property

See Property Maintenance

Landlord failed to provide utilities

30 days

Property damage due to fire, disaster or unavoidable accident

Immediate

Tenant is a Victim of Family Violence

If the tenant is a victim of domestic abuse, he or she may terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord a 30 day written notice to quit plus ONE of the following documents:

  • Temporary injunction (issued under Family Code Chapter 6)
  • Temporary ex parte order (issued under Family Code Chapter 83)
  • Protective order (issued under Family Code Chapter 85)

If the landlord violates Tex. Prop. Code § 92.016 of Texas landlord tenant law, the tenant can sue the landlord for actual damages plus one month's rent + $500 plus attorney fees.  Tex. Prop. Code § 92.016.(e)

Tenant is Deployed in the Armed Forces

Texas landlord tenant law Tex. Prop. Code § 92.017.(b) allows a servicemember or servicemember's dependent to terminate the tenancy agreement if ONE of the following conditions is met:

  • Tenant entered military service
  • Servicemember received orders for a permanent change of station
  • Servicemember received orders to deploy with a military unit for 90 or more days

The tenant may terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord a written notice to quit AND a copy of the military orders.  Tex. Prop. Code § 92.017.(c)

If tenant is paying rent every month, the lease shall be terminated 30 days after the next rent due date (e.g. If the tenant gives notice to quit on 10 Jan and rent is due on 15 Jan, then the lease shall terminate on 15 Feb).

For all other types of tenancy, the lease shall be terminated on the last of NEXT month (e.g. If the tenant gives notice to quit on 10 Jan, then the lease shall terminate on 28 Feb).

Property Damage Due to Fire, Disaster or Unavoidable Accident

If the property is badly damaged by fire, disaster or unavoidable accident (that is no fault of the tenant or related people), the tenant or landlord can terminate the lease by giving the other party a written notice to quit.  Tex. Prop. Code § 92.054.(b)

After the lease is terminated the landlord must return any prepaid rent and deposits (after deductions) to the tenant.

If only part of the property is damaged, the tenant should move out of the damaged area. The rent amount will be lowered based on how much of the property is still livable. [Tex. Prop. Code § 92.054.(c)]

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Eviction

According to Texas landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:

Tenant did not pay rent

3 days

Tenant violated tenancy agreement

3 days

Whether you are a landlord evicting someone or a tenant facing eviction, it's important that you handle matters correctly according to your state laws.

If you have any questions or doubts on eviction, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Tenant Did Not Pay Rent

If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a three day written notice to terminate the tenancy. This notice must state the amount of rent owed and that the rental agreement shall be terminated if rent isn't paid within three days.

If the rent is paid within three days, then tenancy shall continue. If the tenant tries to pay rent after seven days, the landlord may refuse the rent and continue with eviction.  Tex. Prop. Code § 24.005.(a)

Tenant Violated Tenancy Agreement

If the tenant violates the tenancy agreement, the landlord can send the tenant a written three day notice to terminate the tenancy. Even if the tenant offers to correct the violation, the tenancy will still terminate and the tenant will have to move out within three days.

The landlord and tenant can change the number of days for giving a notice to quit or whether the tenant is given a second chance for lease violations with a written rental agreement.

Eviction Notice

The landlord can serve an eviction notice to the tenant with any following method:

  • Give the notice to the tenant or a person who is at least 16 years old (and staying on the property) in person
  • Post the notice on the inside of the main door
  • Send the notice by registered mail, registered mail or certified mail (return receipt requested)  Tex. Prop. Code § 24.005.(f)

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Abandonment

There are no specific Texas landlord tenant laws on abandonment of property by the tenant.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When is the property considered abandoned by the tenant? - Tenant hasn't paid rent for X days, Tenant has been absent from the property for X days (without informing the landlord)
  • After the property is abandoned, does the tenant have to continue paying rent until the landlord finds a new tenant?
  • What will happen to the tenant's abandoned belongings? - Can the landlord dispose or sell them immediately OR does the landlord have to hold it for a period of time?
  • If the landlord is holding the abandoned belongings, how long does the tenant have to claim it back AND does the tenant have to pay the landlord any holding costs?

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Resources

Texas Landlord Tenant Law: Texas Landlord and Tenant Residential Tenancies Code

Texas Landlord Tenant Handbook: Tenants' Rights Handbook

Eviction: Texas Forcible Entry and Detainer

If you have any questions or need legal advice, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

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