Although Texas has implemented statutes to govern the relationship between landlord and tenant, the main resource that will guide a landlord and a tenant is the rental lease. The lease, whether it is written or oral, will be enforced by the state. Because a rental agreement is a binding contract between the tenant and landlord, it is imperative for both parties to review the agreement before signing.
In Texas, the tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment, which protects the tenant from any unreasonable eviction as well as interrupt the peace and quiet for the tenant. The landlord is required to ensure quiet enjoyment for the tenant, which means that if another tenant is causing a disturbance, the landlord must do something about the disturbance. As well as ensuring the peace and quiet for the tenant, the landlord must also not disturb the tenant by limiting the use of the utilities, such as water or electricity. The landlord cannot interrupt the use of utilities by the tenant, unless a repair is being performed.
The landlord is responsible to make any repairs to the unit and building to ensure the safety of the tenants. Texas law requires that the landlord guarantee a good and fit living condition. However, if the repair costs exceed $10,000, then the case will be heard in front of a judge. The tenant does not need to have legal representation to appear before the judge. Also, the written agreement may state that certain repairs will not be made by the landlord, but instead by the tenant. For instance, if the tenant or the tenant's guest creates a hazard in the unit, the landlord is not responsible to repair the damage, nor pay for the repairs to be made; this does not pertain to normal "wear and tear" damage.
Under Texas law, there must be security devices installed in each of the units, such as locks, deadbolts and door peepholes. The landlord is financially responsible for installing and maintaining these security devices. Smoke alarms are also the landlord's responsibility. If there is a faulty security device, the tenant can request any repairs to the landlord.
A tenant has the right to perform certain remedies if the landlord fails to follow Texas tenant law. A tenant can terminate the lease, repair the problem and deduct the cost from the rent owed, or file a lawsuit in civil court to force the landlord to make the necessary repairs.
Most landlords require a security deposit from the tenant that covers any repairs necessary when the tenant's lease ends. The security deposit could also act as a rent payment if the tenant fails to pay the rent for the unit. Landlords are not legally entitled to keep the security deposit unless they have listed a reason for any monies kept.