Texas Rental Laws

Written on September 18, 2012 by , updated on August 24, 2016

Flag of TexasThis article summarizes some key Texas Landlord-Tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.

We’ve used the Official State Statutes and other online sources cited below to research this information and it should be a good starting point in learning about the law.

With that said, our summary is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice. Laws and statutes are always subject to change, and may even vary from county to county or city to city.

You are responsible for performing your own research and complying with all laws applicable to your unique situation.

If you have legal questions or concerns, we recommend consulting with the appropriate government agencies and/or a qualified lawyer in your area. Your local or state bar association may have a referral service that can help you find a lawyer with experience in landlord-tenant law.

Official Rules and Regulations

Details

Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: No statute
  • Security Deposit Interest: No statute
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No statute
  • Pet Deposits and Additional Fees: No statute
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 30 days
  • Require Written Description / Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes (92.104)
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No statute

Lease, Rent & Fees:

    • Rent Increase Notice: No Statute (92.012)
    • Late Fees: Reasonable amount allowed
    • Returned Check Fees: No statute
    • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): No Statute
    • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Yes, but not more than 1 month’s rent or $500. Tenant must give prior notice to Landlord.
    • Landlord Allow to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: Yes
    • Termination due to Public Indecency: Immediate
    • Subletting: Prohibited without prior consent
    • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Rerent if Tenant Vacates: Yes
    • Lockouts Allowed:

Yes, but conditions apply. (Sec. 92.0081)
Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No (Sec. 92.008(o))

Notices and Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – Yearly Lease: at least 1 month
  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – Month-to-Month: at least 1 month but tenant and landlord can make agreements in writing that differ from this.
  • Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute
  • Eviction Notice for Nonpayment: 3 days to pay or move-out – Landlord can file for eviction 3 days after notice is received. (Sec. 24.005)
  • Eviction Notice for Lease Violation: No Statute
  • Required Notice before Entry: Yes, but no notice period is specified (92.0081)
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Yes, but no notice period is specified (92.0081)
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No Statute
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No Statute
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: No Statute

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Landlord must identify, in writing, the name and address of the property owner.
  • Landlord must identify, in writing, the name and address of the property manager.
  • Landlord can remove personal property of a deceased tenant who has abandoned the property 30 days after sending postmarked certified notice to the previously stated point-of-contact, and if no one has claimed the items. (Sec. 92.014.5)
  • Landlord must inform the Tenant, in writing, that they have the right to “Repair and deduct or the option to terminate the lease”, if the Landlord fails to make repairs that directly affect the health or safety of an ordinary tenant.
  • Landlord must inform the Tenant, in writing, that they may break a lease early in special circumstances involving sexual assault, sexual abuse, or domestic violence.
  • Landlords can require tenants to provide proof of domestic violence status before releasing tenants from a lease.

Court Related:

  • Small Claims Court Limits: $10,000
  • Collection agents or agencies, money brokers, and moneylenders are not allowed to use in small claims court.

Business Licenses:

  • Business License required: No state-wide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements.  Check with your local governing authority.
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948 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Diana

    I moved into to this rental about 9 months ago. Before signing anything I discussed the possibility of finding a roommate with the landlord. They said they would have to add their name to the lease. Now he is asking for a another full security deposit. As in one month’s rent is $1100, I paid an $1100 security deposit when I signed the lease. Now he is asking for another $1100 security deposit for any second tenant. I’ve never heard of this and it makes no sense. Is there a law regarding this?

    • Ken

      Being a “roommate” and not a “couple” I can understand what they are doing and why (to a point). The roommate addition separates the liability. It may not seem ‘right’, but there are multiple scenarios that could happen where one tenant may be evicted without the other needing to be. If added to the same lease, just as a second tenant and not a separate lease, it raises more of an eyebrow as to ethics, but not illegal. It can follow under a ‘mutually agreed addendum’. CH92 lease application section explains that each tenant can or should qualify separately. (Not considered legal advice, please contact an atty for that).

  • Kimberly

    My tenant has informed me that he does not want (ever) my management company representative and relative back at his home- my rental property. During a recent natural disaster , hurricane Harvey, my tenant contacted me informing me that the pool water level was high and asking if he needed to pump it out. I replied thanking him and telling him I would have my son in law stop by to look at the pool. FYI: my son in law built the pool and acts as my rental management company. I texted the renter twice informing him that my rep would be by in the next few hours. Tenant ok. Son in law arrived after two hours knocked and rang bell. My tenant confronted my rep and verbally called him names. can I send whomever I wish regardless of tenant ?

  • Susy

    My child’s lease is up and she is moving to a new apartment. Hurricane Harvey has affected moving. Now her ‘old’ complex is telling her she has to be moved out by 6pm today or pay September rent. Is this legal? Is there any concession for natural disasters?

    • Ken

      If she is still in the unit after her lease expires, she is considered a holdover tenant on a month to month lease. Yes it is perfectly legal. Failure to pay results in a nonpayment lawsuit. The complex has no guarantee she will be out today, tomorrow, next week, or longer. The tenant is considered living there until they and all personal property is removed.

      While I understand you are trying to look out for your child, there are others affected also to be considered. Should the complex give free rent for her but not all tenants? Should the next family moving in there affected by the hurricane just find another place?

  • Michelle

    My tenants were impacted by a hurricane and the home flooded. It is currently being remediated. Sheetrock & flooring removed and the home is drying out. It may be several weeks or months before sky repairs can be made. The tenants still have belongings in the home and want us to offer them free or reduced rent until the home repairs are completed. They are staying with friends and may be eligible for fema benefits for temporary hosting. Do we have to offer reduced or free rent until repairs are done? We are willing to let them out of the lease but they want to stay.

  • Meems

    My landlord just called and said he sold the property and we need to be out by the 15th. Is this legal?

  • Sarah stubin

    How do i find out if my landlord has a of occupancy for the comerical space i rented? is there a public data base ?

    • Ken

      Public data base? No. Unless you count the physical or virtual online phone/address listings which are not always accurate. How about knocking on the door or asking the landlord? Your question is very vague to even try to offer more of an answer.

  • Roger

    I have lived in an apt. for over 5 yrs. and now the housing authority says that HUD is adding an addendum for no smoking in the dwelling or on the property within 25 feet. This is in mid-lease of the yearly lease agreement, Can HUD add this to the lease and evict you for not following that addition to the lease. I told the management that I wasn’t going to sign it and was told that me not signing the addition to the lease that it would be a means for eviction of me being evicted,

    • Ken

      Yes. Since it’s HUD I’m sure proper notice was given for a rules update. That’s a battle you aren’t going to win.

      • Roger Fedlander

        Thanks Ken, I kind of figured that because of it being a part of the government they can do about anything that they want.

        • Ken

          **Not wanting a political discussion, and I know a lot of ppl will hate hearing this and fervently disagree, but most of the people living in Sec8/HUD continually vote for those who hurt them more than help. If they truly knew the laws, amendments, proposals, judgments, etc that affect this housing then they would see it as well. The strict enforcement and extremely biased regulations (and not the way you would think) are a continuation of effect of The New Deal but made worse every 20yrs. It’s more gradual so most don’t see it unless they legally invested in these properties and watch how it negatively affects these tenants. Bureaucracy sucks.

  • David Earnest

    Good Evening. Since May, I have been in a battle with a Texas County Tax Assessor about raising property tax on a rental I own. Is there a rule in the property code that says I can or cannot raise rent to cover the increases in Taxes and Insurance Costs? Thank You for your Comments.

    • Ken

      I believe there is one for commercial but not residential tenancies. You will need an atty regardless for that as it is under legal advice.

  • Barry

    Hello, I have lived in my complex for several years and a new management company recently took over in the last 2 months. A month ago, they sent out a welcome document stating that if I want to continue to pay using a paper check, there would be an additional $35 processing fee attached to it. I am in the middle of my current lease which ends in 2018 and there is no documentation in regards to additional fees for payment on my lease contract. Can they legally require me to add an additional $35 to my monthly rent payment if I continue to choose to pay via check?
    Also, their reason for adding the fee is so that they can encourage tenants to use their online processing tool, but they still charge a processing fee there as well!

    • Ken

      Ran into this before. Read CH92 and search for Cash payment. Link toward top of page. It can’t be refused. Also a lease may not be modified without mutual consent during the term. That fee is ridiculous btw. Forcing a payment like that is essentially an increase in rent. It’s something you could fight and have a good case if presented properly. (Disclaimer – we cannot give legal advice on here and my comment should be viewed as personal opinion based on the information provided. Consult an atty for legal advice)

      • Barry Warriner

        Thanks for the reply, Ken. Interestingly, shortly after submitting my inquiry here, I received an email from the management company stating that they would eliminate the $35 fee for in office checks until further notice.

  • Jason

    I’m from San Antonio Texas I’ve been renting my apartment for over an year now. It’s been a 9 months passed the lease rental agreement. If I understand and read my lease correctly it states that unless I or the landlord provide notice to terminate the lease agreement the lease will automatically renew,which did happen, does that mean that I am in a month to month lease agreement or does it mean that the current lease agreement will remain? The other day I made a complaint regarding some maintenance issues and he decided that he was going to raise the rent . Question is if the lease renewed can he still raise the rent? What are my options since the raise is over my budget?

    • Ken

      If you didn’t renew the lease for a longer term, you are on a month to month lease under the old lease terms. An increase can be made with proper notice to any amount. In apts the amount has to be uniform throughout so there isn’t ‘retaliation’. (See CH92 Retaliation By Landlord and the following applicable sections)

      If you can’t afford the lease, you will have to move obviously. Give proper notice (should be 30 day but read your lease) and make sure to make payments during that time or you will lose your deposit for sure. (See CH92 Security Deposit and the following applicable sections) CH92 link is toward the top of this page.

  • Ashley

    I was stranded out of state during Hurricane Harvey and unable to return to Houston for over 7 days because of airport closures. I was not able to work and when i did get in houston my check was not even enough to pay rent in full. I’m now being told i have to pay late fees and they have filed for eviction. Is this legal during a natural disaster. I understand bills need to be paid and i am not trying to not pay, I’ve just asked for time during Harvey and if i do not provide the remaining balance by 9/11 they are changing my locks…what can i do?

    • Ken

      This is a tough question to answer without going into grey areas so this is not to be considered legal advice. Contact an atty for that.
      Unless you have casualty loss covered under Sec. 92.054, then you will need an atty to fight this and likely will not win. Here’s why I say that… If I was on the prosecution, I would say since that section didn’t apply, it would be no different than any other time. A person has the responsibility to ensure payment is made on time. FEMA was offering emergency income loss through TWC as an option. Not having enough in savings is not my fault as a LL. The loss of income would be liken to a lost job, transportation, medical, etc. None of which reasons have won in my court cases. Call & work with the LL.

      • Ken

        A lot of ppl were drastically affected and I sympathize personally, but not all LLs do. For my tenants, I offered a pmt plan to extend over 6 weeks for insurance money to come in to those with verified job loss or damages. So far, all but 2 are caught up. As for the lockout, please read Sec. 92.0081 and 92.009. http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/SOTWDocs/PR/htm/PR.92.htm

        The best (personal, not legal) advice I can offer is to call your LL and remember attitude is everything. In a worst case scenario, borrow or take a loan to cover the expenses. It will cost more in interest, but less than the alternative.

  • Patricia

    I was in the process of resigning my lease and I noticed my landlord had increased the rent of my garage from $40/month to $75/month without ANY prior notice!! Is this legal?

    • Ken

      Due to legal restrictions as you are not a client or tenant, I will just say this….

      Did the renewal come 30 days prior to the end of the lease term?

      Google search: texas rent increase on new lease

      You will see appropriate references to the time for notice on lease renewal, also that the rent can be increased to any amount (with proper notice).

  • Betty

    My friend has until the 15th of sept to move out of the trailer she has been renting. When she got home today the landlord had the closest parking to access the trailer blocked with a boat turned long ways and a car next to it! Is this legal? She’s disabled as a cancer and heart patient.

    • Ken

      Betty, it sounds like a malicious thing but you are asking about legality and liability. First, take pictures with dates printed on them, and daily broad views. Lots of them. What kind of trailer? Mobile home or RV? What does the lease say about parking areas? Assigned, open? Who do the vehicles belong to? Can you prove the LL did that? Are they disabled slots? When was the vacate notice given? (MFG home is different than other tenancies) How was it delivered, what did it say? Were there other parking slots available and this was just intentional inconvenience? Was it blocking her access or right to peaceable habitation?

      You may want an atty because there are several questions that need to be addressed.

  • Carla

    I have 2 tenants: a woman, her daughter, & the daughter’s 2 small children.

    The young woman didn’t want her husband (the children’s father) on the lease, stating he lived separately & worked out of town.

    The women were approved as tenants (good credit & background checks). The young woman’s husband was omitted from app & lease, so no background work was run on him.

    On move-in day I was stunned when this man arrived to “check things out”. He has exceeded the number of days for ‘guest’ status, telling neighbors that he DOES live there full-time.

    Neighbors suspect he operates a business out of the garage.

    The lease allows for 2 vehicles. They have 6 vehicles parked on & along the property.

    Do these violations warrant eviction? Advice?

    • Ken

      I can understand why you’re asking as lease violation evictions can sometimes be tricky. Your notices must also be proper. Subletting or visitors overstaying is a lease violation, though not a “serious” one. The burden of proof falls on the LL to prove they are living there and not just a “frequent guest”. If you are unsure of how to do this, you should contact an eviction service specialist or atty. (Not being a client I can’t tell you how to do it here)

      Being a LL, I would highly suggest spending an hour to read CH24, and 92. Also, from what you asked, pages 7 and 41-42 of the Texas Tenants’ Rights Handbook (Google search for the PDF).

      • Carla

        TY for reply.
        How I handled it:
        1-Studied tenant apps & lease covenants thoroughly;
        2-Boned up on TX Law & LL/Tenant Rights;
        3-Made a Notice of Violation citing specific Sections;
        4-Contacted tenant by phone to discuss;
        5-Followed up w/ email to tenants, w/ Notice attached;
        6-Opted to refrain from sending Notice Certified Mail at this time;
        7-Gave 5 days to remedy violations;
        8-All future violations will start formal legal action.
        Husband’s name was intentionally omitted on app & lease, as he was named 2x as “Emergency Contact NON-OCCUPANT”.
        Hunch: this is their M.O. & they’ve done this before.
        She claims he has ‘bad credit’. My response: Disclosure trumps Deception.
        NEW QUESTION:
        If background shows criminal priors/warrants can I evict?
        TY

        • Ken

          Remember, email is not proper notice. CH92 has a section on applications & disqualification. You can deny a person from tenancy for that, but not evict on it as you “already accepted” them. Due diligence falls on LL.

          There are other reasons/ways to terminate a lease. Are you looking to just get them out for the husband being there or is something else going on?

          • Carla

            TY, Ken.
            Re: understand Email vs. Certified.
            If violations continue, then will send certified & begin legal actions. I know eviction process is arduous & expensive.
            As to wanting them out or not:
            Credit can be dealt with.
            Being deceptive concerns me.
            He is not a tenant on the lease, was not accepted as such, & is residing there illegally.
            So until background check is proven to be “clean” he is not a tenant.
            My gut feeling is there is criminal activity lurking & they don’t want it known, which accounts for the deceit.
            The woman was adamant that they lived separately when she applied for tenancy.
            I will read over the sections that you recommend.
            Chiefly, I want to protect my prop’ty, its value, & neighbors.
            More advice is appreciated!
            TYmuch!

          • Carla

            Hi, Ken.

            Regarding written Notices:
            On this lease, one tenant agreed to accept Notices through email.
            The other tenant did not, so it seems I need to send the Notice by Certified mail anyway.

            What is confusing in this matter is that although the couple claims to be married, she insisted they lived separately, going as far as naming him as a ‘non-occupant Emergency Contact’ in 2 locations: the application & on the lease.

            She specifically did not want him on the application OR the lease & made it very clear.

            To now say he lives there because ‘he is her husband’ is a ‘red flag’ to me & the realty group who vetted the female tenants. BTW, there are at least 4 lease violations and they only moved in on 9/1/17!

            Appreciate your input.
            Carla

            • Ken

              It might be better to continue off-site. I have a personal opinion on what may be going on and comment, but it’s not a public reply. Please keep in mind any legal advice should be sought from an atty as legally we cannot give that unless to an actual client either on this site or otherwise.
              Contact via: code3tx at gmail dot com.

  • Angie

    How soon can a landlord start showing your apartment unit if you have a yearly lease which started 1 month ago. I was asked if I wanted to renew for next year which is 11 months away. If I don’t renew they will start showing my apartment until someone signs a lease. How much time am I supposed to be given to decide if I want to stay next year?

    • Ken

      The LL is wanting to show your residence 11 mos in advance? That sounds not only unreasonable but aggressive. The answer lies in your lease. Take a look and see if there is a clause in there allowing the unit to be shown. Most standard leases allow the unit to be shown, but also stipulates the time frame in which that is to be allowed. You have the right to unobstructed enjoyment of the residence and showings should have to be at a schedule convenience to you.

      There is no statute under Texas law that addresses landlord’s entry, however Texas courts have held that a landlord may not enter the rental property unless entry is authorized by the tenant unless in an emergency. http://www.housing-rights.org/entry.html

  • Kathy

    We signed a lease and paid the deposit with the understanding we would move in the 15th and at which time, would pay a pro-rated amount of rent for this month. Today, the 14th, the management rep let us know she has rented the unit out to someone else just this morning? Can she do this? Our move in date is tomorrow!! We have worked with this lady for over a month to get this unit. She said she will send our deposit back to us. What about everything else? It leaves us homeless.

    • Ken

      You had a signed lease. Take that paper to your atty. You should have a strong multi-tiered case with punitive and actual damages.

  • Angela

    Is it illegal in Texas for the owner of a home to rent out a house without having any kind of insurance on the home? My sister rents a house in Houston that was involved in the flooding recently. The homeowners had absolutely NO insurance. My sister applied for FEMA assistance to recover some of the things that her family lost living in the home. The owners of the home had already applied to rebuild the house due to the flooding and their lack of insurance so my sister that was actually living in the house was denied. Is this legal?

    • Ken

      Sorry to hear. Lots of homeowners got caught lacking flood insurance, many not knowing it’s a separate policy. As for tenants, there is renter’s insurance, and separately renter’s flood ins. Everyone has personal responsibility to safeguard their interests.

      Some people don’t buy it because they incorrectly believe it is part of their renters policy. Renters may also not consider getting it because they figure their landlord’s policy will cover their dwelling.

      Flood insurance costs about $700/yr for tenants and homeowners.
      ***Also, why do tenants not ask LLs for insurance docs?

      • Angela

        I was not talking of flood insurance. I was talking about insurance AT ALL

        • Ken

          Your specific question was the legality of not having any insurance — but reference to a flood claim.

          Unlike driving a car, you can legally own a home without homeowners insurance. There is currently no legal requirement to have Home Insurance. You can rent without having renter’s insurance. Too many landlords and tenants try to save money by skimping on insurance, only to regret that decision when a claim is needed.
          From ALLSTATE:
          “Neither landlord insurance nor homeowners insurance will typically protect personal items owned by your tenant. That’s why you may want to make renters insurance a condition of your lease. Renters insurance may help protect your tenant’s possessions, and also provide them with some liability protection. “

  • christin

    My ac has broken 9 times since I moved in (no freon, loose wires,) taken anywhere from 5-9 days to come fix it. this last time, my ac was blowing hot air. i shut it off. I filed a maintenance request, and 5 days passed, and no call/no show (i was keeping my dog in my room all these days) I called the 3rd day (no answer) & 5th day to cancel services because I was sick of waiting and putting my dog away with no one showing up. She verified the cancellation. 4 days later I came home from work, and my dog was locked in my room with no food, water, or puppy pads. She made a mess on my carpet and was hiding uner the bed scared. I was furious they came into my apt. w/o my consent, but also locked my dog up! So furious! the front desk said “Sorry”

  • Jason Weber

    I have a house I rented out in texas the people just moved out a month ago unexpectedly left me with 800$ in electric and 500$ In water can u and trashed the house my lease said no changes in remodel or painting they painted and it’s all messed up all on floors and also on lease was not supposed to have pets house is trashed and animal per and poop every where what are my rights as a landlord I live out of town so they put us in a bad situation

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