Texas Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Texas Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Last Updated: August 11, 2023

Tenants in Texas have the legal right to repairs for issues that place the property in violation of state health and safety standards. To exercise this right, they must notify the landlord through the proper process and allow 7-14 days for the repairs to be made.

Texas Landlord Responsibilities for Repairs

Texas landlords must repair issues materially affecting the health or safety of ordinary tenants, except conditions caused by the tenant. Landlords are responsible for keeping all of the following in good working condition:

  • Basic plumbing (water heater, prevention of flooding and sewage backup).
  • Provided utilities (water, wastewater, gas, electric).
  • Provided heating or cooling equipment.
  • Smoke alarms.
  • Locks for exterior doors and windows.

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What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible for in Texas?

Texas tenants are responsible for repairing damage they caused, damage when they’re behind on rent, and damage to things that don’t affect health and safety. Under special conditions, the landlord and tenant can also sometimes agree for the tenant to handle certain other repairs.

Requesting Repairs in Texas

Texas tenants can initially request repairs by giving the landlord verbal or written notice. After this first request, the tenant must wait seven days and submit a second repair request (which must be written), unless the first request was served with delivery confirmation (like registered mail).

How Long Does a Landlord Have To Make Repairs in Texas?

Texas landlords usually have seven days after proper notice to attempt repairs. When using a service with delivery confirmation (like certified mail), one request is proper notice. Otherwise, proper notice requires a second written request made seven days after the first.

The law may require a different response time when renters intend to repair and deduct:

  • Sewage backup or flooding requires immediate response.
  • Lack of heating or cooling, cutoff of potable water, and some lock issues require response within three days.
  • If the landlord gives the tenant an affidavit detailing necessary delays, any waiting period may be extended by 15-30 days.

Can the Landlord Refuse To Make Repairs in Texas?

Texas landlords can refuse to make repairs, if the tenant caused the issue or if the tenant is behind on rent.

Do Landlords Have To Pay for Alternative Accommodation During Repairs in Texas?

Texas landlords are not required to pay for alternative accommodation while they make repairs.

Tenant’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in Texas

Texas tenants might take any of the following actions if a landlord doesn’t make timely repairs after proper notice:

  • End the lease.
  • Repair and deduct from rent.
  • Get an injunction forcing repairs.
  • Get an injunction reducing rent.
  • Get a judgment against the landlord for costs plus a significant civil penalty.

Can the Tenant Withhold Rent in Texas?

Texas tenants are prohibited by law from unilaterally withholding rent. However, by following proper procedure, the tenant can legally deduct rent for certain needed repairs or to maintain utility service after landlord nonpayment, and the allowed deduction might sometimes (in severe cases) equal the full rent.

Can the Tenant Repair and Deduct in Texas?

Texas tenants can repair and deduct in Texas after specifying this intention in proper notice to the landlord. The repairs must be for one of the following permitted issues:

  • Backup of raw sewage, or flooding.
  • Complete cutoff of potable water.
  • Anything materially affecting health and safety where the government has given the landlord written notice.

Repairs must also be done according to all the following requirements:

  • Cost less than monthly rent, or $500 (whichever is greater).
  • Attach a reviewable invoice.
  • Performed by someone listed in the yellow pages or local newspaper – no repairs are allowed to be made by the tenant, tenant’s family, or tenant’s employees.
  • Both the repairs performed and the issue to be repaired must not affect the foundation or load-bearing elements of a multi-unit building.

Can the Tenant Break Their Lease in Texas?

Texas tenants can break their leases when a landlord doesn’t make legally required repairs after proper notice.

Can the Tenant Sue in Texas?

Texas tenants can sue to force repairs, or to recover costs plus a significant civil penalty, when a landlord doesn’t make legally required repairs after proper notice.

Can the Tenant Report the Landlord in Texas?

Texas tenants can report landlords to local inspections or code enforcement departments for code violations. If an inspecting officer finds a violation that materially affects health and safety, the tenant might be able to sue, end the lease, or repair and deduct.

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Landlord Retaliation in Texas

It’s illegal for Texas landlords to retaliate with raised rent, reduced services, eviction, or bad-faith interference with tenant rights, against tenants who have taken one of the following protected actions in the past six months:

  • Maintenance requests.
  • Good-faith exercise of rights under the law or lease.
  • Good-faith complaints to relevant nonprofits or government agencies about code issues.
  • Participation in a tenant organization.

The law allows an exception when the landlord can prove a non-retaliatory, good-faith reason for the alleged retaliatory action. For example, a landlord who raises rent proportionately in response to a large increase in property tax is not retaliating, even if a tenant has recently complained about maintenance.

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