The Ultimate Guide on Landlord-Tenant Laws in Texas [2023]

Increase your knowledge of Texas’s landlord-tenant laws with this Texas-sized guide covering key rental topics like leases, rent payments, evictions, and more!

By
Rachel Robinson
|
Last Updated
November 23, 2023
The Ultimate Guide on Landlord-Tenant Laws in Texas [2023]

In the Lone Star State of Texas, landlords and tenants navigate a complex network of local and state rental laws. These regulations, commonly referred to as landlord-tenant laws, have a profound impact on the rights and obligations of both property owners and renters, shaping the dynamics of their interactions. Understanding and adhering to these laws can be a significant challenge, even for experienced landlords and renters.

To help overcome this challenge, we've put together a Texas-sized guide to answer questions surrounding key rental topics like tenant screening, rent payments, lease agreements, evictions, and so much more. Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, this guide will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of Texas's rental laws, as outlined in the Texas Property Code Title 8, Chapter 92 (here).

Landlords will discover how to safeguard their rental properties and cultivate positive tenant relationships, while tenants will acquire the knowledge needed to assert their fundamental rights.

Let's get started!

Texas landlord tenant law fast facts

Texas landlord responsibilities and rights

Rights

Texas state law grants landlords basic rights that allow them to manage their rental properties protected from legal and financial issues. A few of their main rights include:

  • Charging and receiving rent payments when due
  • Collecting security deposits to cover unforeseen costs when the lease ends
  • Pursuing a legal eviction if the tenant commits a lease violation

Responsibilities

Texas rental owners also have a set of obligations to uphold that ensure a safe and smooth tenancy for renters. Their key duties are:

  • Providing tenants with a safe, habitable rental property free of housing discrimination
  • Making necessary repairs within 7-14 days, and as little as 3 days for certain issues, after getting written notice from tenants
  • Returning a tenant’s security deposit within 30 days of the end of the lease

Texas tenant responsibilities and rights

Rights

Same as landlords, tenants in Texas also have fundamental rights that work to protect their safety and well-being while living in a rental unit. Their key rights include:

  • Living in a habitable rental property that meets health and safety codes
  • Having repairs made in 7-14 days after providing the landlord with written notice
  • Taking legal action if the landlord breaches the lease agreement

Responsibilities

Texas renters have a range of responsibilities to uphold. Generally, these duties ensure the rental is maintained and the landlord goes financially unharmed. In Texas, tenants must:

  • Pay rent on time
  • Keep the unit in safe and habitable condition
  • Make small repairs and perform maintenance when necessary
  • Use fixtures as intended and keep them clean and sanitary
  • Promptly alert the landlord to any maintenance issues
  • Not disturb other renters or neighbors

Texas landlord tenant laws through the rental cycle

Texas rental application and tenant screening laws

Texas’s tenant screening and rental application laws are relatively simple and straightforward. For instance, there is no limit on how much a landlord can charge for a rental application fee, but the fee must be applied solely to tenant screening costs. Application fees do not have to be refundable unless the prospective tenant was rejected. Additionally, landlords should not ask any questions on the application that could lead to discrimination as outlined in the Federal Fair Housing Act.

To run background checks, landlords must first obtain the potential renter’s written consent. Landlords can run background checks including criminal history, credit history, rental history, and current income.

Texas rental agreement and lease termination laws

Lease or rental agreements of less than one year may be written or oral. However, it’s always advised to document leases in writing as it attributes important responsibilities to both parties.

Texas leases should include the following information:

  • Landlord’s name, address, and contact information
  • Rent amount and due date
  • Length of lease
  • Description of the rental unit

Learn what else you should include in a lease agreement today!

To terminate a lease, a landlord must provide a 30-day notice for month-to-month leases. There are no notice requirements for other lease types.

Texas renters may also terminate lease early for the following reasons:

  • Active military duty
  • Early termination clause
  • Landlord harassment 
  • Uninhabitable unit
  • Domestic violence or sexual assault
  • Stalking

Texas security deposit laws

Texas state law allows landlords to collect a security deposit at the start of the lease to cover unforeseen costs. Similar to a handful of other states, Texas does not limit how much a landlord can charge for the security deposit.

Texas’s only security deposit regulation is that the landlord must return the tenant’s deposit within 30 days of the lease ending. Landlords may make deductions from the security deposit for reasons including unpaid rent, damage beyond normal wear and tear, costs due to a breach of the lease, and any other charges listed in the rental agreement.

If the landlord fails to comply with the notice period or wrongfully withholds funds, tenants can sue for three times the amount wrongfully withheld plus an additional $100 and attorney fees.

Texas rent laws

Texas does not have rent control laws and prohibits its cities and states from creating their own laws. Thus, landlords can charge any amount of rent and increase rent as often as they would like, but they cannot increase rent during the lease period unless the lease agreement allows for it. Texas does not specify how much notice a landlord should provide before raising rent. To maintain a harmonious landlord-tenant relationship, the two parties can agree upon a minimum notice period for a rent increase.

Texas landlords must provide rent receipts for cash payments. If tenants fail to pay rent on time, landlords are required to provide a 2-day grace period before charging a late fee. Additionally, the late fee cannot be more than 10% of the rent if the rental property has 4 or fewer units. For buildings with 5 or more units, the landlord cannot charge more than 12% of rent.

Texas repair and maintenance laws

In Texas, landlords are required to make repairs within 7-14 days after getting written notice from tenants. However, some issues with essential services must be repaired within 3 days.

If landlords fail to make repairs in a timely manner, tenants can take a few legal actions: sue for costs, file a court order to force the landlord to make the repairs, and cancel the rental agreement altogether. Tenants can also use the “repair and deduct” remedy as long as the issue doesn’t cost more than $500 to repair.

Texas notice of entry laws

Texas landlords can enter rentals for reasons including maintenance, inspections, and to change the locks of tenants who have defaulted on rent. While landlords should provide notice before entering the property, Texas state law does not specify how much notice a landlord should provide, but 24 to 48 hours of notice is common. However, landlords are not required to provide notice in case of emergencies.

Texas eviction laws

Texas rental owners are allowed to evict tenants for specific legal reasons. Depending on the reason for eviction, landlords are required to provide a notice period before the eviction process can start. Here are the legal reasons for eviction and the associated notice periods:

  • Unpaid rent: If tenants fail to pay rent on time, the landlord may issue a 3-day notice to quit. If the terms are not met, the landlord can move forward with eviction procedure.
  • Lease violation: If the tenant commits a lease violation, the landlord may issue a 3-day notice to quit. If the tenant does not vacate the rental, the landlord can move forward with the eviction.
  • Foreclosure: If the rental property is being foreclosed and the lease will not be renewed by the new owner, the landlord must issue a 30-day notice to quit before initiating the eviction process.
  • No lease/end of lease: If the tenant holds over or stays past the end of the tenancy, the landlord may issue a notice to quit. The notice period depends on the length of the tenancy. Month-to-month leases require a 30-day notice period, while tenancies in which rent is paid more frequently should receive a notice period equal to the rental period.

Texas landlord tenant laws continued

On top of covering rental matters like repairs and evictions, Texas law also encompasses topics like landlord retaliation and discrimination. Explore a few of those regulations below.

Housing discrimination

In Texas, tenants are only protected from housing discrimination by federal laws established in the Federal Fair Housing Act. It prohibits landlords from discriminating against renters based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.

If a landlord violates housing discrimination laws, such as by advertising that has a discriminatory preference or falsely claiming a rental unit is unavailable, tenants can seek legal help and file a complaint with the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

Landlord retaliation

It’s illegal for landlords in Texas to retaliate against tenants for taking protected actions like reporting landlords to government authorities for health and safety violations. Raised rent, reduced services like water or gas, and threatened eviction are all considered forms of retaliation in Texas.

Mandatory disclosures

Texas state law requires landlords to provide tenants with certain disclosures at the start of the lease term. The disclosures include:

  • Lead-based paint: Landlords who own rental units built before 1978 must provide information about the concentration of lead-based paints.
  • Authorized agents: Landlords must provide the names and addresses of all parties involved in owning and managing the property. 
  • Late fees: If a landlord intends to charge a late fee for any reason, the fees must be disclosed in the lease agreement.
  • Emergency phone number: Landlords or property management companies are required to provide a 24-hour emergency phone number that can be used to report emergencies.
  • Parking rules: For multi-unit rentals, parking rules and restrictions should be disclosed in the lease.

Understanding landlord tenant laws in Texas with confidence

By understanding and complying with Texas’s landlord-tenant laws, landlords and renters can confidently navigate the full rental process. Landlords can safeguard their real estate investments, tenants can assert their fundamental rights, and both can work together to create a harmonious landlord-tenant relationship.

Landlords, if you need help with collecting rent or creating a lease agreement, and tenants, if you are looking to boost your credit, Azibo has got you covered. Learn about all of the benefits of using our free rental software today!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date legal information. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a legal professional.

Important note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. This post should not be taken as legal advice or used as a substitute for such. You should always speak to your own legal counsel before taking action.

Rachel Robinson

Rachel Robinson has 6 years of experience in writing, editing, and SEO, specializing in rental property and real estate. She excels in market trends and landlord-tenant dynamics, producing content that drives traffic and informs. Outside of work, she enjoys climbing Colorado's granite boulders.

Rental rundown background image
Rental rundown hero image

Whether you’re a property owner, renter, property manager, or real estate agent, gain valuable insights, advice, and updates by joining our blog.

Subscriber Identity

I am a

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.