Texas Landlord Tenant Rights

Texas Landlord Tenant Rights

Last Updated: June 1, 2023

Under Texas law, if a written or oral rental agreement exists, or if payment is accepted as rent, landlords and tenants have automatic rights and responsibilities under TX Property Code Chapter 92, such as the right to timely rent payments and a livable dwelling.

Note: These rights exist regardless of what the rental agreement says.

Landlord Responsibilities in Texas

In Texas, landlords legally can’t rent property out unless it meets basic health and safety requirements. Here is a list of amenities and how they relate to Texas’ habitability requirements:

Item Has to Provide? Has to Fix/Replace?
Heating/AC No Only If Provided
Hot Water Yes Yes
Kitchen Appliances No No
Garbage Containers/Removal No No
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors Yes Yes
Mold N/A Yes
Pest Control N/A Yes

If a property doesn’t provide the legally required amenities for habitable housing, a tenant can usually report the landlord to government authorities for unsafe living conditions.

Read more

Renter’s Rights for Repairs in Texas

Landlords are required to make necessary repairs in a timely manner. In Texas, repairs must typically be made within 7-14 days after getting written notice from tenants, although some issues with essential services (like sewage backup that causes flooding) must be repaired within three days.

If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, Texas tenants can sue for costs, or a court order to force the landlord to make repairs. They can also cancel the rental agreement, or make minor repairs and deduct from the rent.

Read more

Tenant Responsibilities in Texas

Apart from paying rent in a timely manner, Texas tenants must:

  • Keep the unit in a safe and habitable condition.
  • Properly use fixtures and keep them in a clean and sanitary condition.
  • Make small repairs and maintenance.
  • Immediately inform the landlord of any defects or maintenance issues.
  • Not disturb other tenants or neighbors.

Evictions in Texas

Texas landlords are permitted to evict tenants for the following reasons:

  • Nonpayment of Rent: If a tenant fails to pay rent on the due date, the landlord may issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit. If the terms of the notice are not met, the landlord may initiate formal eviction proceedings.
  • Lease Violation: If a lease violation occurs, the landlord may immediately send a 3-Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant does not leave the property, the landlord may file for eviction.
  • No Lease / End of Lease: If a tenant stays in the rental unit after the lease term has expired, the landlord may issue a notice to quit. The amount of time required in the notice depends on the type of tenancy.
    • Written or Verbal Lease: 3-Day Notice to Quit.
    • Less Than Month-to-Month: If rent is paid more frequently than on a month-to-month basis, a landlord must provide the tenant with the same amount of notice as one rental period; for example, week-to-week tenants would receive at least seven days’ notice.
    • Month-to-Month: 30-Day Notice to Quit.
    • More Than Once a Month: If rent is paid more frequently than once a month, the tenancy shall end on the later of the day given in the notice or the day following the number of days equal to how often the tenant pays rent. For example, if a tenant pays the landlord every 20 days, the notice shall be a 20 Days’ Notice.
  • Foreclosure: If the rental property is being foreclosed upon and the lease will not be renewed by the new owner, landlords may issue a 30-Day Notice to Quit prior to beginning an eviction action.

It is illegal for landlords to evict tenants in retaliation or for discriminatory reasons.

Read more

Landlord Retaliation in Texas

It’s illegal for Texas landlords to retaliate with raised rent, reduced services, or threatened eviction against tenants who have taken a protected action like reporting a landlord to government authorities for health and safety violations.

Read more

Security Deposits in Texas

Collections & Holdings: The following laws apply to the collection and holding of security deposits:

  • Maximum: None.
  • Inventory Requirement: Landlords are not required to document the condition of the rental unit at the start of the lease term in order to collect security deposits.
  • Interest Requirement: None.

Read more

Returns & Deductions: The following laws apply to the return of security deposits:

  • Allowable Deductions: Unpaid rent, physical damage, expenses due to a breach of the lease, and other charges listed in the lease agreement.
  • Time Limit for Return: 30 days.
  • Max. Penalty for Late Return: Tenants can sue for three times the amount wrongfully withheld plus $100 and attorneys’ fees.

Read more

Lease Termination in Texas

Notice Requirements: If a Texas tenant wishes to terminate a periodic lease, then they must give the following amounts of notice:

Rent Payment Frequency Notice Needed
Week-to-Week No statute
Month-to-Month 30 Days (can be modified)
Quarter-to-Quarter No statute
Year-to-Year No statute

Early Termination: Texas tenants may legally break a lease early for the following reasons:

  • Early termination clause.
  • Active military duty.
  • Uninhabitable unit.
  • Landlord harassment.
  • Domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking.

Read more

Cost of Breaking a Lease in Texas

If a Texas tenant breaks their lease early, they are still liable for the rent for the remaining lease period. Landlords are legally required to make a reasonable effort to re-rent the unit, and if they find a new tenant, the original tenant is then no longer liable to pay all remaining rent.

Landlords cannot keep the full security deposit because a tenant broke their lease. The landlord can make deductions for damages or unpaid rent, but the rest must be returned to the tenant.

Read More

Rent Increases in Texas

Texas does not have rent control and state law prohibits cities and towns from creating their own rent control laws.

Because Texas does not have rent control, landlords can raise the rent by any amount, as often as they choose, but they cannot increase the rent during the lease term unless the lease agreement allows for it. Additionally, landlords cannot increase the rent out of discrimination of federally-protected classes or in retaliation.

Texas state law does not specify how much notice landlords must give before raising the rent. Landlords and tenants can agree on a minimum notice period for a rent increase in the lease agreement.

Read more

Housing Discrimination in Texas

Protected Groups: The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against tenants on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex, or disability. These rules do not apply to some owner-occupied homes or homes operated by religious organizations. Texas state law does not extend protections to any extra groups not outlined in the Fair Housing Act.

Discriminatory Acts & Penalties: The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs handles issues relating to housing discrimination. They have highlighted the following behaviors as potentially discriminatory when directed at a member of a protected group:

  • Falsely claiming a unit is unavailable.
  • Requiring different leasing conditions.
  • Advertising that indicates a discriminatory preference.
  • Harassment, verbal intimidation, sexual advances.
  • Refusing to make reasonable accommodations.
  • “Steering” tenants towards neighborhoods and complexes that may be seen as segregated.

Tenants who believe they have been the victim of housing discrimination may file a complaint here. Specific penalties vary on a case-by-case basis.

Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Texas

In addition to having laws that address general issues like repairs and security deposits, most states, including Texas, grant rights and responsibilities about things like lock changes and a landlord’s right to entry. See the topics below for more information.

Landlord Right to Entry in Texas

Texas landlords have the right to enter rental property for inspections and maintenance, and to change the locks of a tenant who has defaulted on rent. In most cases, landlords must give notice before entering a property. The amount of notice is not specified in the law, and terms of access usually depend on what’s in the lease. However, landlords are not required to get permission to enter in case of emergencies.

Read more

Rent Collection & Related Fees in Texas

The following laws apply to the collection of rent and related fees:

  • Grace Period: 2 days.
  • Maximum Late Fee: Landlords must not charge more than 10% of the rent if the building has 4 or fewer units. The maximum late fee is 12% if the building has 5 or more units.
  • Rent Payment Methods: Landlords must accept cash unless the lease agreement allows other methods.
  • Rent Receipt: Required for cash payments.
  • Bounced Check Fees: $20 maximum.

Small Claims Court in Texas

Most disputes between landlords and tenants are handled in Small Claims Court, which is an informal process designed to be quicker and simpler than higher courts. For example, disputes regarding the return of security deposits are typically handled in Small Claims Court.

Landlords and tenants can file cases in Small Claims Court to settle minor disputes without hiring an attorney if the amount claimed is less than $20,000. Texas Small Claims Court is a division of Justice Court. The process takes approximately three to four months.

Read more

Mandatory Disclosures in Texas

Texas landlords must make these mandatory disclosures:

  • Lead-Based Paint: If a landlord owns a home built before 1978, they must provide information about concentrations of lead paint.
  • Authorized Agents: Texas landlords must provide the names and addresses of all parties involved in managing the unit.
  • Right to Repair and Deduct: Landlords in Texas must provide documents that express, in clear language, the tenant’s right to repair and deduct if repair requests are not met.
  • Parking Rules: Disclosure is applicable to multi-unit complexes with parking rules & restrictions.
  • Late Fees: If there are any late fees that might be charged, they must be disclosed in the rental agreement.
  • Emergency Phone Number: Texas requires property management companies and landlords to provide a 24-hour emergency phone number that can be used to report emergencies within the building.

Read more

Changing the Locks in Texas

Texas law has certain provisions that allow for lockouts in a limited number of circumstances. However, landlords may only change a tenant’s locks once in a given rental period.

Texas landlords also have detailed legal responsibilities regarding doors and locks. If not provided, in many cases tenants can pay for the lock installation themselves and deduct the cost from rent.

Local Laws in Texas

Many cities in Texas have their own landlord-tenant laws in addition to the state requirements. Check your local county and municipality for additional landlord tenant regulations.

Dallas Landlord Tenant Rights

The City of Dallas provides extra protections for tenants. Landlords are not allowed to increase rent or diminish services as a response to a formal complaint. More info can be found here.

Austin Landlord Tenant Rights

Tenants in Austin are entitled to take part in a variety of programs relating to fair housing and landlord-tenant mediation. These programs are provided by the Austin Tenants Council which can be contacted here.

San Antonio Landlord Tenant Rights

San Antonio maintains several housing programs designed to help tenants who need financial support. More about these services can be found here.

Houston Landlord Tenant Rights

The City of Houston has the “Security Device Law of 1993” that requires security devices to be installed in rental units that meet certain city standards. This covers lock systems, bolted doors, and window locks. More info can be found here.

Fort Worth Landlord Tenant Rights

The City of Fort Worth requires landlords to provide notice if the failure to pay utility bills will result in them being shut off. The landlords must wait 7 days, then provide a 5-Day Notice to pay. If the terms of this notice are not met, the landlord may shut off the utility.