Confused about when your landlord can enter your apartment? You aren't alone. Many tenants wonder about their rights to make copies of keys, allow landlords to visit or make repairs, and whether a landlord can enter an apartment without notice.
Texas rental laws, specifically the Texas Property Code, provide information on how a landlord must interact with a tenant. However, those laws are not clear on a Texas landlord's right to enter. While Texas statutes allow the landlord to enter, Texas court rulings have limited that right. Since the right is given by Texas rental laws but limited by court, the courts will look to the lease agreement between the renter and the landlord for more information.
Apartment Inspection Laws in Texas
Overall, unless a lease agreement specifies that a landlord can enter the leased premises (an apartment or a house), a Texas landlord's right to enter is limited to emergencies, routine inspections or repairs. However, lease agreements are not uniform. Some leases provide a variety of other reasons why a landlord might be allowed to enter. The Texas Apartment Association lease, commonly used in Texas, allows a landlord entry to remove unauthorized pets, show the unit or stop excessive noise, among other reasons. While the TAA lease is not a clear statement of apartment inspection laws in Texas, it provides some information about the circumstances that might allow a landlord to enter. Another reason why a landlord may be allowed to enter a leased property without notifying the renter is if the landlord is posting notice about eviction.
Can a Tenant Refuse Entry to a Landlord in Texas?
Texas renters' rights law makes clear that, even if a landlord were permitted to enter by the terms of the lease, a landlord must first see if the tenant is at home anytime the landlord wants to enter the premises. A tenant can deny the landlord entry by using a keyless deadbolt. A tenant has the right to deny the landlord access, even where allowed by the lease, if the tenant has a valid excuse. Tenants may not deny the landlord access to the leased property continually, or the tenant may be in breach of the lease and possibly apartment inspection laws in Texas. However, a landlord may not interfere with a tenant's use of the property. In some cases, a landlord's repeated entry into the property could be considered so annoying or harassing as to make the tenant want to leave the property. That action by the landlord is called Constructive Eviction.
Read More: What Is the Landlord Tenant Law?
Can a Landlord Enter Property Without Notice in Texas?
A landlord is not required to give specific notice of the landlord's interest in entering the property, unless the lease specifies it. This means, in some circumstances, a landlord may enter a leased property without notice to the tenant, even when there is no emergency, if the lease allows it. There is no standard form for a Texas landlord's notice to enter, unless the lease specifies it. This may seem confusing, because the law concerning how a landlord in Texas evicts a tenant involves terms such as "right of entry" and "notice of right of entry." The difference between the notice required for a landlord to evict a tenant and the notice required for a landlord to enter the apartment or leased house can be confusing. Students can request guides and information from their school's student centers. Others can seek guides from legal aid clinics and other free legal services.
Texas Renters' Rights
Texas renters' rights law provides other protections to tenants. A landlord without a key to the premises, for whatever reason, may request a copy from the tenant. The tenant must provide a copy of the key only if the lease agreement states that (the same holds true for alarm codes). Any other right to keep a landlord out of an apartment, or limit the landlord's entry into an apartment, is found in the lease.
Texas Rental Laws do not provide specifics about Texas landlord rights to enter or the notice required before entering an apartment or leased house. Instead, tenants should look at their lease.
Maggie has a J.D. from Emory Law School, with honors, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the Emory Bankruptcy Developments Journal. She is the author of various articles on regulation, policy, and compliance. She speaks in classrooms on law and health policy and works on compliance in health care and real estate.