Below is a summary of rental laws in Texas. This article is researched and cited according to the Official State Statute in Texas, however, it is very important that every landlord and property manager review their state and local laws and speak with an attorney in their state for further guidance and clarification.
The Official State Statutes and other reputable municipal sources were used to research this information. Resource links to the Texas Official State Statutes on Landlord-Tenant Laws and the Texas Tenants’ Rights Handbook or any other link provided have been included for your convenience.
In Texas, there is not a governmental agency that has the power to intervene in a dispute between a landlord and tenant to force one or the other party to behave in any particular manner. A landlord or tenant who cannot resolve a dispute on their own would need to use the courts, either directly or through a lawyer, to enforce their legal rights.
Rental laws are amended and updated by state legislation, you are advised to speak with your local housing authority department and licensed attorney that specializes in landlord-tenant laws in Texas for a detailed interpretation of the rental laws that affect you. This article is an educational reference and does not constitute legal advice.
OFFICIAL STATE RESOURCES FOR LANDLORD-TENANT LAWS IN TEXAS
Texas Official State Statutes
Chapter 92: Residential Tenancies
Chapter 93: Commercial Tenancies
Chapter 94: Manufactured Home Tenancies
Property Code Title 4. Actions and Remedies
Chapter 24: Forcible Entry and Detainer
Property Code Title 7, Condominiums
Chapter 82. Uniform Condominium Act
Texas Landlord-Tenant Handbook: Texas Tenant’s Rights Handbook
LAWS ABOUT SECURITY DEPOSITS
Texas’ property code security deposit laws are cataloged in the Texas Property Code, Subchapter C, §§ 92.101 – 92.110.
Max Security Deposit Amount: No state statute
Security Deposit Interest: No state statute
Additional Move-In Fees: No state statutes regarding the amount allowable for pet deposits, application fees, and other fees, including non-refundable fees.
Security Deposit Refund Timeline: Must be postmarked by USPS on or before 30 days after vacancy if the forwarding address is known or provided prior to the deadline. Otherwise, must be mailed as soon as the forwarding address is provided after the deadline (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.103 and § 92.107).
Legal Use of Security Deposit Funds: The landlord may deduct from the deposit damages and charges for which the tenant is legally liable under the lease or result of breaking the lease. However, the landlord may not deduct from the security deposit for items under normal wear and tear.
The landlord must also give the tenant the balance of the security deposit and written description with an itemized accounting of all deductions unless the tenant owes any portion of rent when they vacate the premises and there is no controversy concerning the amount of rent is owed (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.104).
Failure to Comply with Security Deposit Laws: In Texas, a landlord may forfeit the right to withhold a security deposit and could also be liable for a sum of $100 and three times the portion of the deposit wrongfully withheld in addition to the tenant’s reasonable attorney’s fees.
A landlord may not keep the security deposit (or other fees and/or rent collected) if a tenant does not move-in and the landlord secures a replacement tenant before the commencement date of the original lease except for a cancellation fee agreed to in the lease or the actual expenses incurred to secure the replacement, including reasonable amount for the landlord’s time (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.1031).
Move-In and Move-Out Inspections: No state statute
LAWS ABOUT RENTAL APPLICATIONS
Application Fees: No state statute
Notice of Eligibility Requirements: In Texas, the landlord must have a printed notice available to all applicants with the selection criteria and reasons an application may be denied. The applicant must sign that the notice was available to them.*
Application Refund: A landlord may reject an application and keep the application fee if a) the selection criteria are not met and/or the application information provided was incomplete or inaccurate and b) the landlord provides written information that a refund will be denied under those conditions.
*See the section Legal Disclosure Requirements below for notification requirements.
LAWS ABOUT RENT
- No statute for notices to increase rent for an at-will tenant (one without an official lease) also known as a month-to-month tenant.
- 30-day notice before lease renews required for a tenant on a longterm lease unless otherwise agreed on in writing by both the landlord and tenant on a different notice timeframe.
- Landlords may not raise the rent for the purpose of retaliation against a tenant who exercised a legal right, nor to discriminate (Tex. Prop. Code §§ 92.331 – 92.332).
Maximum charge: No state statute
Grace Period: Rent is due the first of the month and is considered late the day after it is due. A rental agreement or lease can allow for an additional grace period and/or allow for exceptions such as holiday and/or weekend extensions. Although the rent is due on the first, late fees can not be imposed until two full days after the due date if it remains unpaid (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.019).
Late Fees: Landlords in Texas can charge between 10-12% depending on how many units are on the property (4 or less at 12%, more than 4 at 10%). Additionally, a landlord may charge more than the maximum to recover costs, expenses, or overhead associated with collecting the late payment. The landlord may charge an initial late fee as well as a daily fee until rent is paid. The initial late fee can not be accessed until a two-day grace period (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.019).
Cash Rental Payments: Unless noted otherwise in a lease agreement, the landlord must accept cash payments and offer a receipt for cash payments received. The landlord must also keep a record book of the cash payment date and amount (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.011).
Tenants Right to Withhold: A tenant may not withhold the last month’s rent in lieu of a security deposit held. However, there is no statute on a tenant withholding rent for failure to provide essential services. In Texas, tenants are allowed to deduct rent for repairs related to only health or safety issues and only if a) it is not more than one month’s rent or $500; whichever is greater and b) they gave the landlord prior notice (Tex. Prop. Code §§ 92.056 and 92.0561).
LAWS ABOUT THE LEASE
Lease Terms: No state statutes
Lease Termination: Termination of a lease in Texas can occur by mutual agreement, when the lease ends (with property non-renewal notification), one party breaking the lease, or according to state or federal law. Unless noted in the lease, no state statutes outline notification timelines. However, in the case of an eviction (for nonpayment or other violations), the landlord must give written notice to allow the tenant three days to cure the violation before the landlord can file in court (Tex. Prop. Code § 24.005).
Early Termination Fees: A landlord must make a reasonable effort to find a replacement tenant if the tenant breaks a lease. If a replacement tenant is found or approved by the landlord, they may still charge a reasonable reletting fee. However, unless the landlord has given a release from the lease agreement if no replacement is found, a tenant is liable for paying the remaining rental payments outlined in the lease (Tex. Prop. Code § 91.006)
Exceptions to Lease Termination Liability: A tenant may seek relief from an early termination fee and other liabilities and terminate a lease early if a victim of family violence or called to military service and provides appropriate documentation. Additionally, a lease may be terminated and responsible parties released from liability following the tenants’ death (see statute) (Tex. Prop. Code §§ 92.016-017).
Termination of Lease for Conviction: A landlord may terminate a lease if the tenant, occupant, tenant employee or agent was convicted of using the property under Chapter 43 Penal Code. The tenant must be given notice of termination within six months after the right to terminate arises. The right to possess the property returns to the landlord 10 days after notice (Tex. Prop. Code § 91.003)
Renewals: A landlord in Texas may decide to not renew a lease for almost any reason. However, if the lease expires without a 30-day notice to terminate, the relationship will continue on a month-to-month basis.
If neither party offers a notice to terminate, typically the long term lease will result in a month-to-month rental agreement and continues until either party offers one-month advance notice of termination (or if rent is paid more often, the notice time period is equal to the rental time period) (Handbook pg 7).
Evictions: Evictions may be filed for failure to pay rent or failure to abide by the lease agreement. The Texas landlord must first terminate the right of possession in writing at least 72 hours prior to filing an eviction lawsuit. If the tenant does not move out, the landlord then files a written complaint (namely a forcible entry and detainer lawsuit) with the court. Check with state statutes and seek legal counsel for additional eviction steps and criteria (Tex. Prop. Code § 24).
Occupancy Limits: Maximum occupancy in Texas is three adults per bedroom (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.010 see subsection b for exceptions).
LAWS ABOUT LANDLORD RESPONSIBILITIES
Notice for Entry: No state statutes
Implied Warranty of Habitability:
- Structural elements of the home, including walkways, stairs, sewer and water lines, etc. must be maintained.
- Regardless of who pays for the services, the landlord must provide the appliances in good working order to make adequate hot water (a minimum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit), cold water, and heat available (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.052.1(b)).
- Air conditioning is not a required appliance in Texas. However, if the lease mentions that air conditioning is available, the landlord must ensure it is in working order and service and repair as needed (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.0561.3(C)).
- Working locks on all doors and windows. Additional security devices are required for sliding glass doors and a keyless bolting device (see statues for specifics based on the type of door installed) (Tex. Prop. Code §§ 92.153-160).
- Smoke alarms are required generally in every bedroom and at least one on every level in a multi-level dwelling (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.255).
- Depending on local ordinances, a fire extinguisher may be required but there are no state statutes except to say if one is provided and mentioned in the lease, it must be maintained and inspected at the beginning of the tenant’s possession (Tex. Prop. Code Subchapter F, §§ 92.251 – 92.264).
LAWS ABOUT PROPERTY MAINTENANCE AND REPAIRS
Normal Wear and Tear: Items in the home experiencing normal wear and tear do not need to be remedied by the landlord in Texas unless stated in the lease (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.052).
Health and Safety: The Justice of the Peace can order a landlord in Texas to remedy any condition that would affect a tenant’s physical safety or health (not to exceed $10,000). See statute for additional conditions and liabilities for failure to comply and/or violations (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.0563).
Repair and Deduct: A tenant may only withhold rent if a repair request is a health or safety issue and with very specific criteria of the type of repair, notification, waiting period to allow landlord time to make a diligent effort, etc. see statute (Tex. Prop Code §§ 92.056-92.058).
Security and Safety: At the landlords’ expense, smoke detectors and security devices (deadbolts on exterior doors, window latches, pin locks and handle latches or security bars for sliding glass doors, and door viewers must be provided and properly maintained. See statute for exceptions (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.153)
LEGAL DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS
Ownership and Agents: Disclosure of ownership and management is required in Texas. Landlords must disclose the name and address of the owner (holder of record title), management company, and any agent acting on their behalf. They also must post in a conspicuous place, continuously, the name and contact information for any on-site manager. Lastly, the information must also be included in the lease agreement (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.201 and Tex. Prop. Code § 92.006).
Transfer of Ownership: In the event of a change of ownership in Texas, the new owner assumes the liability of the security deposits and required to notify the tenant about the transfer of the security deposit and the amount (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.105).
Failure to make repairs: A landlord in Texas must offer the tenant a written notice (underlined or in bold print) regarding the tenants’ rights in the event a landlord fails to make necessary repairs directly affecting the safety and/or health of their residents (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.056).
Special Circumstances: The tenant must be informed in writing that they may break their lease in special circumstances such as abuse, assault, or domestic violence. They can require a tenant to provide proof of status before releasing the tenant from a lease (Tex. Prop. Code 92.016-017).
Interruption of Utilities: If a tenant pays a landlord for utilities in Texas and the tenant fails to pay, the landlord may interrupt service for non-payment if notifications and statements are issued. Refer to the statute for guidelines and further information on interrupting services legally (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.008).
Towing or Parking Rules or Policies: If a tenant is signing a lease in a multi-unit complex and if the lease has vehicle towing or parking rules or policies that apply to the tenant, the tenant must receive a copy prior to executing the lease. The copy must be signed by the tenant, included in or attached to (if referenced) in the lease agreement. It must contain a title that reads “Parking” or “Parking Rules” and be capitalized, underlined, or printed in bold (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.0131).
Notice of Eligibility Requirements: In Texas, a landlord must make available a printed notice of the tenant selection criteria and grounds for denial to an applicant. Those criteria should include the applicant’s information such as criminal, credit, and rental history, current income, and a disclaimer regarding denial if failure to provide accurate or complete information.
An applicant must then sign an accompanying acknowledgment stating the notice was made available. See code for the specific language required in that acknowledgment (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.3515).
Mold: There is currently no federal law covering a landlord’s responsibilities when it comes to mold. At the state level, Texas does not have any laws that specifically address a landlord’s duties or liability when it comes to mold disclosures, prevention nor remediation.
Lead Paint: Federal Law requires all landlords to include a “Lead Warning Statement” in their lease for buildings built before 1978 about lead-based paint and/or potential hazards. Additionally, landlords are required to provide renters with an EPA-approved information pamphlet about lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards (Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, Title X).
RANDOM TENANT LAWS
Subletting: Subletting is prohibited without the landlord’s approval (Tex. Prop. Code § 91.005).
Deceased Tenant: A landlord in Texas must send a postmarked certified notice to the previously designated point-of-contact and then wait 30 days before removing the personal property of a deceased tenant. See state statute for inventory and storage regulations (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.014).
Emergency Phone Number: If the property has on-site management, the landlord must provide the tenants a phone number that will be answered 24 hours a day for the purpose of reporting a property related health or safety emergency. That contact information also must be posted prominently outside the management office (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.020).
Texas Tenants’ Rights Handbook – offered by the Texas Young Lawyers Association and State Bar of Texas
Texas Workforce Commission: Texas Housing Discrimination Fact Sheet
EPA Approved Lead Disclosure Information on Lead-Based Paint/Hazards – SAMPLE
Access to a third-party user-friendly and printable version of the entire Texas Property Code Title 8, Chapter 92 regarding Residential Tenancies is available by a non-governmental website here: http://texaspropertycode.org/
This summary of landlord-tenant laws is provided to you by Rentec Direct, LLC and is thought to be true and accurate at the time of publication. It is not intended to be used as legal advice for your particular problem. Please note that changes may occur and this publication may not reflect the most recent updates to the law.
Please consult an attorney familiar with landlord-tenant law in your state for any legal advice.