Information on Landlord & Tenant Rights in Texas

By Eric Ervin
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Texas law has protections and guidelines that give both tenants and landlords rights when the two parties enter into a rental agreement. The law covers every aspect of a Texas rental agreement, including living conditions, rent, repairs and eviction guidelines and procedures. It identifies the expectations of a tenant and landlord.

Landlord Rights

Texas law states that a landlord has the right to charge a tenant any amount for rent. The landlord can also increase the rent when a new lease is signed, as many times as desired. If a tenant fails to pay rent by the due date, then a landlord can charge a late fee. There is no specific law that mandates how much a landlord can charge for late fees. However, Texas considers excessively high late fees---more than half a month's rent---a potential violation of the state's consumer protection laws.

Tenant Rights

According to Texas law, a tenant has the right to live in a quiet environment. The quiet environment rule not only applies to noise levels, but states that a tenant has the right to live in a dwelling where there is not a disturbance in utilities without proper cause--such as repairs, emergencies, or construction projects--and no eviction or threat of eviction without proper cause.

The Lease Agreement

The lease agreement is the most important document between a tenant and landlord because it spells out every detail of the living arrangement, such as paying rent, late fees and consequences associated with not paying the rent by the date it is due, security deposits, pet policies, policies on overnight guests, noise, property upkeep and maintenance and other guidelines. The tenant and landlord should sign the lease and copies should be made for both parties to keep for their records. If there are any changes in the lease agreement, then it should be amended to include the new policies.

The Property

The property should be fit for someone to live. A tenant has the right to live in a property that has running hot water, working plumbing, no infestation of roaches, rats and other pests, and anything else that affects health and safety. A landlord can require a tenant to pay a security deposit---in any amount---to be used for damages and repairs to the property. A landlord can also require a tenant to pay a separate pet fee, in any amount, to cover damages made by an animal, such as stains in the carpet and scratches to walls and doors.

Eviction

In cases of evictions, a landlord has the right to evict a tenant if there is a threat to the landlord's life. A landlord can also evict for non-payment of rent or violations of other terms of the lease agreement. Tenants can ask a justice of the peace or judge for a trial to defend themselves during an eviction order. The tenant can argue to remain at a property on the grounds that the landlord did not fellow Texas laws in notifying the tenant of the intent to evict, rent was always paid on time, the property constantly needed repairs that were not made and other violations of the lease agreement.

About the Author

Eric Ervin has more than 10 years of experience as a print journalist, having worked at newspapers and magazines in Alabama, Texas and Georgia. His work has been published in the "Houston Press," "Houston Chronicle" and "Mobile Press Register." Ervin received a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of South Alabama.