Texas Habitability Laws

Last Updated: December 15, 2021 by Elizabeth Souza

QUICK FACTS
  • Landlord Responsibilities. Provide supply of hot water and maintain smoke detectors in good working condition (read more).
  • Making Repairs. Landlords are required to make and pay for repairs for items under their responsibility. They must do so within seven days after receiving a written request from tenants (read more).
  • Tenant Options. If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, tenants can’t withhold rent, but they have right to repair and deduct, report the issue to a public official or file a lawsuit (read more).
  • Retaliation. If a landlord is reported to a local city or county inspector for housing code violations, it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate, such as by threatening eviction (read more).

The implied warranty of habitability in Texas does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.

Dwelling Type Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?
Single family Yes
Multi-family Yes
Fraternities/Sororities/Clubs No
RV parks Not specifically addressed
Mobile home parks Only if person in mobile home is renter, not owner
Condos Only if person in condo is renter, not owner
Hotels/Motels No

Additionally, rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that waive the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence.

Questions? To chat with a Texas landlord tenant attorney, Click here

Landlord Responsibilities

The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability.  Not all of them are requirements in Texas, as indicated below.

Note: Some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.

Habitability Issue Landlord Responsibility?
Provide windows and doors that are in good repair. Not addressed
Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks. Not addressed
Provide hot and cold running water. Hot water only
Provide working HVAC equipment. Not addressed
Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting. Not addressed
Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking Not addressed
Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet). Not addressed
Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services). Not addressed
Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe. Not addressed
Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe. Not addressed
Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean. Not addressed
Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials. Not addressed
Provide working smoke detectors Yes
Provide a mailbox. Not addressed
Provide working wiring for one telephone jack. Not addressed
Provide working kitchen appliances. Not addressed
Provide working carbon monoxide detector. Not addressed
Provide a working washer/dryer. Not addressed

As you can see from the chart above, state law doesn’t specifically address landlords’ maintenance requirements—except for providing hot water and smoke detectors. In Texas, a landlord is obligated to repair any condition that affects the tenant’s health or safety unless the tenant or the tenant’s guest(s) have caused the damage through abnormal use.

For additional landlord duties, please check with the city, town, or municipality in which the rental unit is located to determine whether there are other rules and regulations that lay out minimum requirements in other areas.

Hot Water

Landlords in Texas must supply running unheated and heated water. The hot water should be a minimum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Security

In addition to the above requirements, the landlord cannot remove any windows or doors, or locks and latches and hinges for windows and doors, unless it is to repair or replace the item that was removed. In that instance, the repair or replacement must be done “promptly.”

Landlords are also required to provide locks for all exterior doors and latches for all exterior windows.

Making Repairs

Landlords are required to make and pay for any repairs to make the unit livable that are not caused by the tenant. In Texas, landlords shall make repairs under the following conditions:

The tenant sends notice, and the tenant is not delinquent on rent payment; AND

    • The repair materially affects the health and safety of the tenant; OR
    • The hot water does not sustain a minimum temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Sending Notice – If a tenant request repairs, they must put their request in writing to the landlord. Landlords will have seven days to repair the problem or three days if it involves the lack of drinking water, air conditioning or heat.
  • Landlord Access – Tenants are not required to give the landlord access to the rental unit unless it is written into the rental agreement, except in an emergency. Generally, if the rental agreement does include a provision concerning access, it must also include “reasonable” notice to the tenants prior to entry.
Questions? To chat with a Texas landlord tenant attorney, Click here

Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made

If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner and a subsequent notice has been given (if required), the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.

  1. Withhold Rent – Texas landlord tenant law does not permit tenants to withhold rent in response to habitability issues.
  2. Repair and Deduct – Tenants have the right to make the necessary repairs themselves and take the cost out of their next monthly rent payment provided that the total cost of repairs do not exceed the amount of one month’s rent under the lease or $500, whichever is greater. There is no limit to how often the repair and deduction method may be used if the deductions do not exceed the greater of one month’s rent or $500. Notice should be provided to the landlord stating that the tenant intends to make the repair and what repairs will be made. The tenant must provide the landlord with a copy of the repair bill and receipt for the payment. To make a repair, the issue must be under one of these categories:
    • Raw sewage is backed up or overflowed inside of the dwelling unit.
    • There is no running water.
    • Broken pipes or natural drainage that is causing flooding inside the dwelling unit.
    • The lease agreement states that the landlord will provide cooling and/or heating but these services are not being supplied and the landlord has been notified by a housing, building or local health official that the lack of cooling or heat is materially affecting the health or safety of the tenants.
    • The landlord has been notified by a housing, building or local health official that the dwelling unit is materially affecting the health or safety of the tenant.
  3. Lawsuit – Tenants do have the right to take legal action for damages resulting from habitability issues.
  4. Reporting to Public Officials – Landlords can be reported on a city or county level to housing inspectors if they are found to be in violation of any local housing codes.

Landlord Retaliation

Under Texas law, it is unlawful for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant for:

  • Complaining to a governmental entity for enforcing building or housing codes, a public utility or a civic or nonprofit agency.
  • Giving the landlord a notice to repair or exercises a remedy.
  • In good faith exercises or attempts to exercise against a landlord a right/remedy granted to the tenant by lease, municipal ordinance or federal or state statute.
  • Participating in or establishes a tenant organization.

A landlord must not within 6 months of the date of the tenant’s actions retaliate against the tenant by:

  • Filing an eviction proceeding.
  • Decreasing services.
  • Increase rent.
  • Terminating a lease.
  • Deprive the tenant of the use of the premises.

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