What You Need To Know About Texas Landlord & Tenant Law
Being a landlord can be a very sound financial investment, but it’s important to understand the commitment necessary in doing so. Texas landlord/tenant law is there to protect both landlords and their tenants when entering into such a relationship. Failing to adhere to the Texas laws protecting your tenant can put you in an uncomfortable spot that costs you more in the long run.
We understand that navigating Texas property codes and determining the best course of action can be intimidating, especially if you’re new to managing properties. Our guide will help you better understand your obligations, the protections afforded to tenants, and how to better protect your finances and property while being a landlord.
What Does Texas Landlord/Tenant Law Require?
There are several property codes in place that outline the responsibilities of landlords to their tenants. The overall overview of landlord-tenant laws in Texas includes many different property laws, disclosures, and procedures. Here are some of the top landlord legal responsibilities in Texas you’ll need to be aware of:
- Fair Housing laws prevent discriminatory practices when advertising property or screening tenants.
- Providing housing that is in a livable condition according to Texas property code.
- Clear documentation and guidelines for paying rent, security deposits, and returns that follow Texas law.
- A legal contract, your leasing agreement, that is negotiable in nature and also provides tenants with the legally required disclosures.
- Retaliation against tenants exercising their legal rights is forbidden.
- Evictions are allowed but there’s a process that landlords must follow to avoid legal perils.
How To Protect Yourself as a Landlord in Texas
Landlords have plenty to do when it comes to protecting their interests when renting out their property. You’ll want to make sure that all of your ducks are in a row and that things are done right to avoid potential headaches, legal issues, and financial losses. Here are some pointers for Texas landlords to stay protected:
- Document everything and get everything in writing. Remember, renters have rights and you’ll need to explain what is and isn’t allowed. Clearly define the consequences and penalties of not honoring the lease agreement, photograph the property before and after having tenants, be sure to document your communication with tenants, etc.
- Follow all of the Texas landlord/tenant laws to avoid legal troubles.
- Screen tenants during the application process to help filter out bad tenants which may end up costing you money rather than making it.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses and collaborate with people who can help you run your real estate investments. An example would be having a property manager you can trust if you are not able to attend to the property or a CPA for your taxes if accounting isn’t your strong suit.
- Understand your risks and purchase appropriate levels of coverage through your insurance provider.
What Are The Basic Renters’ Rights in Texas?
Renters’ rights in Texas exist to protect tenants. Here are stipulations put into place by the law you’ll need to know as a landlord:
- Tenants have a right to peace and quiet meaning you cannot disturb them or evict them without cause.
- Repairs that can affect the health and safety of your tenants must be applied to the property.
- Renters have the right to have security devices installed on the property while renting from you.
- Legal options exist for renters who face issues with landlords failing to hold up their end of their agreement. This includes the ability to use the Justice of the Peace, terminating the lease, making repairs and deducting the cost from their rent, suing you to make the repairs necessary, and protection from retaliation when exercising their legal options.
Texas Property Code Implied Warranty of Habitability
Texas property code chapter 92 residential tenancies outlines the implied warranty of habitability in Texas for those renting. The warranty of habitability in Texas means that landlords have a legal responsibility to maintain their rental property at a level of habitable condition. This includes electrical systems that work, a suitable method for disposing of trash, protection from the weather, functioning gas/plumbing features, etc.
The property code also handles the outline of other responsibilities such as the lines of communication renters must have available, the steps of handling abandoned property, and more. This also includes the newest laws beginning in 2022 which state that Texas landlords will have to disclose flood risk to renters.
Does Landlord/Tenant Law Cover Commercial Leases in Texas?
Yes, Texas landlord/tenant law is in place to help protect commercial leases throughout the Lone Star State. This includes outlining the rights of both property owners and their tenants. Common examples include forbidding discriminatory screening practices, the responsibility of maintaining an implied warranty of habitability, the protection from retaliation to tenants who complain in good faith, etc.
Does Texas Landlord and Tenant Laws Include Relocation Allowance?
Yes, Texas landlord/tenant laws do include guidelines for a relocation allowance, but it’s incredibly complex. This is because each situation is different, the local ordinances are different, and so on. Reviewing your specific situation with your legal counsel is the best course of action for both landlords and tenants. However, for an overview, this Texas tenant relocation assistance toolkit can potentially help you gain a better understanding of your specific scenario.
Renting a Room in My House, What Are My Rights?
The first thing you’ll want to do is to make sure that local laws and regulations, such as a homeowners association (HOA) allows for such activity. This could mean you’ll need to get an inspection before renting it out depending on where you live. Most mortgage lenders will also allow homeowners to rent a room, but some may not, so it’s best to be sure before doing so.
Next, be sure to have everything in writing, well-defined, and well documented. This means everything from the amount for rent, which is taxable income you’ll need to report, to the house rules, which you’ll need to be clear on in case an eviction is necessary. You can screen tenant candidates, however, you’ll need to obtain their permission beforehand on their application.
From here, it’s more about following the same landlord-tenant law in Texas laid out for other properties. Local and state laws will help you not only stay protected but avoid issues in the legal realm and navigate such issues should they arise between you and your tenant(s).
The Importance of Landlord & Renters Insurance
The importance of insurance cannot be repeated enough. There are several policies that are baseline protections that can help you restore losses and avoid financial setbacks with your rental investment:
- Landlord insurance is the foundation that helps you protect your rental home against liability issues.
- Umbrella coverage helps landlords create a stronger financial safety net against exorbitant liability issues that go beyond the initial landlord policy’s coverage.
- Flood insurance can also help landlords protect against growing flooding threats to homes throughout Texas.
Since 2005, Freedom Insurance Group has helped landlords save on their coverage and navigate the hassles of insurance and rental properties. Working with 25+ top-rated insurance providers, we can deliver the best coverage for your needs across a wider range of insurance products all for the lowest price available.
Our agents take the time to develop personalized coverage for each landlord and are more than happy to be a resource for your coverage needs. Texas landlord/tenant law is important to follow, but without the right protections in place, even landlords who do everything by the book are at risk of losing it all. Contact us today to save money while staying covered.