Texas Landlord Tenant Law and Regulations
How much can I charge for rent?
Texas does not restrict the amount of rent a Landlord is permitted to charge.
How many tenants can I rent to for a single unit?
The number of live in tenants may be three (3) times the number of bedrooms as in the rental unit.
What is the limit on application fees?
The state of Texas places no limit on the amount of money that can be charged to perform a back-ground check on a future tenant.
Is there any restriction on what may be charged to a tenant as a late fee when he is late on his rent?
The tenant must be at least one day behind the due date of the rent payment before you can assess a fee. The fee that is charged must be relational to any monies incurred by the landlord because the rent is late. For instance, if the landlord must pay a late charge to a mortgage company; this can be figured in as part of a late charge. Late fees and/or charges must be specifically detailed in a lease.
Is there a limit on what may be set as a fee when a tenant’s payment does not clear his bank?
According to Texas Business and Commerce Code Section 3.506(a), a maximum charge of $30 may be charged to a tenant as a processing fee. There are other ramifications when a check is written and fails to clear. Some are classified as criminal offenses.
Is there a limit on the amount I may collect for a security deposit?
Texas law does not provide for any limitations on a security deposit.
Do I need a separate bank account for the security deposit?
There are no specific regulations in Texas regarding the placement of security deposits. However, the landlord must keep accurate records of all security deposits.
After my tenant has moved, how long do I have to send the security deposit back?
You are obligated to return a security deposit within 30 days after the tenant vacates. However, the tenant must provide you with a forwarding address in a written form. Please understand though that a refund is not nullified simply because the tenant fails to do so. Provided, repairs were required, a list must be provided for the tenant with itemized deductions of the costs along with the return of any monies leftover. Repair costs that are deducted should not be items that are occurrences through normal wear and tear. Costs incurred should be in excess of this.
What are the rules for ending a Texas lease agreement?
The lease is the determining factor as to when and how a lease will end. It is important that this particular item is spelled out in detail in a written lease. In the absence of a printed lease agreement, where rent is paid each month, an advance notice of 30 days is needed by the tenant to be released from the rental obligations. If rent is paid on less than a monthly basis (such as weekly payments), the amount of notice needed to end the lease by a tenant, will be the amount between payments, not including the actual day the notice is given.
My tenant has not moved out yet and is supposed to be, what can I do?
If a tenant has not left the premises at the end of the lease, you may either accept the rent and continue on a periodic tenancy or bring an action for possession.
How much notice do I have to give a tenant in order to evict them?
Generally, you must give at least three days' written notice to vacate the premises before filing a forcible detainer lawsuit. If there is a written lease, and the notice period is specified as more or less than the three days, then that will take precedent.
My tenant has not paid his rent, and I served notice. What shall I do next?
Go to the District or circuit court where the property is located. You will file a court action referred to as an unlawful detainer with the clerk of court. Note that each court has their own fee. The landlord may sue to regain possession, and for monies lost due to mispayment. It is important to include a copy of the “Notice to Tenant” when filing an original action.
I have been assigned a court date, must I go?
Once a court date is set, a landlord should always arrive prepared. In many cases, tenant’s often fail to appear in court, subsequently favoring the landlord. Regardless of the assumption that a tenant may not come to the court hearing, it is important to have all your ducks in a row. Come prepared and bring proof of rents received, such as a current rental ledger along with all correspondence, including letters, tenant notices and emails. If you have dates of phone conversations, they can be important as well. Proof is especially vital in cases that involve nuisance or other lease violations.
I won in court! Now what happens?
A landlord who wins in an eviction suit is eligible to a writ of possession to the premises. A writ of possession must be issued six days after the deciding court date. Once the writ is issued, an appointed authority such as a constable must remove the tenants. You cannot lock the tenant out yourself!
What must I do to inspect my property? Do I have to notify the tenant?
Unless the lease agreement states the landlord may enter the premises, then the landlord has NO right to do so, unless there is an emergency or for regular inspections/repairs. The tenant has his or her own right to privacy in the rental unit. A landlord can be held liable for infringing on tenant rights should they enter the unit without the tenant's permission by advance notice, regardless of how the lease is written.
Are there circumstances where I am required to release a tenant from a lease agreement?
A landlord may be forced to release a tenant from a contractual agreement when the dwelling unit or premise is damaged and/or destroyed by fire or casualty not caused by the tenant, deeming the rental property unlivable. In Texas, under Section 92.0161 of Title 8, Subchapter A allows lease termination rights for sexual assault survivors when the assault has occurred within the preceding six months. Additionally, a tenant may have the right to vacate for issues regarding family violence. This is specified in Section 92.016 of Title 8, Subchapter A of the Texas Property Code for Landlords and Tenants.
Do I have the right to enforce no smoking in my rental property?
Yes. No smoking policies are becoming more and more popular. It can be advantageous in re-renting to future tenants as well. All policies must be exacted in the lease or rental agreement.
Disclosure: The information provided herein is intended as a general discussion of legal issues concerning landlord tenant law. Information provided is not legal advice or a legal opinion, and it is recommended that the reader seek independent counsel for any specific issue.