Texas Landlord Tenant Laws
December 22, 2022
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Special conditions to cancel agreement
Rent and Fees
Application Fee Limit: N/A
Rent Control: N/A
Late Fee Limit: 10-12% of monthly rent
Grace Period Minimum: 2 days
Amount Limit: None
Return Within: 30 days
|Fair Housing Protections
Permitted Times of Entry: N/A
Rent Demand Notice: 3-day quit notice
Notice for Lease Violation: 3-day quit notice
Texas Landlord-Tenant Law
Landlords in all 50 states must include information about lead-based paint hazards in the rental agreements for most properties built before 1978. Sellers and landlords must distribute an EPA-approved information pamphlet called “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” and disclose any known lead hazards in the property. These obligations were established by Section 1018 of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992.
Landlords in Texas must disclose in writing the name and contact information of the property management company, on-premises manager, rent collector, or other authorized agent who services the dwelling.
Texas landlords must provide tenants in multiunit complexes with copies of parking and vehicle towing policies before the lease is executed. The copy must be within the rental agreement, included as an attachment if mentioned in the lease, or signed by the tenant separately. If a landlord changes their parking policies, they must give prior notice in writing. All policy changes that affect tenants’ personal property must be treated the same.
Landlords must inform tenants of their right to ask for remedies if the landlord fails to make repairs. After the tenant makes the initial request and follows through all necessary steps, Texas law permits renters to deduct the cost of repairs from rent if the condition constitutes a material threat to their health or safety. If the landlord still fails to make repairs, the tenant can sue. A judge can then require the landlord to remedy the problem, reduce rent, or refund the tenant’s court costs, attorney fees, damages, or one month’s rent plus $500.
Special Conditions to Cancel Agreement
Landlords in Texas must notify tenants of their right to vacate and terminate the lease early in special circumstances. These special circumstances could involve family violence, sex offenses, stalking, military deployment/transfer, or death.
As of January 1, 2022, all residential leases in Texas must include a flood disclosure. The disclosure should indicate whether the landlord is aware of the property being in a 100-year FEMA-designated floodplain, and if flooding has damaged the property at any time during the last five years.
Rent and Fees
- Rent Due Date: Rent in Texas is typically due on the first of the month.
- Application Fees: There is no set cap on application fees in Texas. Non-refundable application fees are also permitted. However, if the landlord fails to inform the applicant of their tenant screening criteria, they must refund the fee and any deposits (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.3515).
- Rent Increases: No Texas statutes set limits on rent increases. However, individual cities may set local rent control ordinances.
- Late Fees: Late fees in Texas must be “reasonable.” Rent late fees Texas considers reasonable are no more than 12% of monthly rent for properties with four or fewer units or 10% of rent for those with more than four units (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.019).
- Grace Period: The rent grace period Texas requires is two days. Landlords cannot charge late fees until a portion of a tenant’s rent has been unpaid for two full days after the due date (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.019).
- NSF/Bounced Check Fee Maximum: $30 (Tex. BC Code § 3.506b).
- Withholding Rent/Repair and Deduct Remedy: Tenants may withhold rent if the landlord fails to repair or remedy a condition that affects the health and safety of the tenant after reasonable written notice. However, the amount of the deduction must be less than one month’s rent or $500, whichever is greater (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.0561b).
- Deposit Limit: There is no limit on security deposit amounts in Texas.
- Interest: No state statute requires Texas landlords to pay interest on security deposits.
- Return Within: 30 days (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.103).
- Deposit Location: Texas landlords are not required to keep security deposits in a separate bank account.
- Withholding: Landlords can withhold all or part of the security deposit to cover damages and charges for which the tenant is legally liable. These damages must not be part of ordinary wear and tear. Landlords must also provide the tenant a balance of the security deposit and an itemized list and written description of deductions, unless the tenant owes rent or there is no controversy concerning the rent owed at the time (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.104).
Tenant Screening and Fair Housing Protections
- Federal law prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, familial status, and disability (Title 24 USC § 3601-3607). The Texas Fair Housing Act (Tex. Prop. Code §§ 301) adds protections for pregnant individuals.
- Texas landlords are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) (15 USC § 1681), which outlines the responsibilities of landlords to protect tenant credit information. According to the Act, landlords may not share tenant credit information with anyone without a legal reason to view it. Landlords must also investigate disputed information, dispose of credit reports after use in tenant screening, and notify applicants when their credit score or history was the reason for their denial.
- Criminal background checks may be used during tenant screening in Texas. However, landlords must communicate that criminal history is part of their tenant selection criteria in written form before or at the time of application (Tex. Prop. Code §§ 92.3515).
- Texas landlords should also follow HUD recommendations for using criminal background checks fairly. This includes avoiding blanket policies for denying applicants with criminal convictions, assessing applicants and their criminal histories on a case-by-case basis, and only denying an applicant when they demonstrate a risk to the safety of other residents or the property.
- Advanced Notice: There is no state law in Texas requiring landlords to give advance notice before entering a property.
- Permitted Times: Texas law does not designate any time-of-day restrictions for entering.
- Emergency Entry: In case of emergency, entry is generally permitted without advanced notice if the lease agreement does not specify reasons for when the landlord may enter.
Evictions are complex legal processes often poorly understood by both parties. Before pursuing eviction in Texas, consider hiring an experienced real estate attorney and be sure to review the Texas eviction process in more detail.
In Texas, landlords can choose the length of the eviction notice they would like to provide and enforce it as long as the tenant agreed to it in the lease. If no period is specified in the lease, the following default notice requirements apply:
- Default 3-day notice to quit. This notice applies in several different scenarios:
- Nonpayment: If rent is unpaid when due and the lease does not say how many days’ notice will be given, the landlord must deliver a three-day quit notice (Tex. Prop. Code § 24.005(a)).
- Holding Over: If a tenant remains in possession of a property after the expiration of their lease (tenancy “at sufferance”), the landlord should give the tenant at least three days’ written notice to vacate (Tex. Prop. Code § 24.005(b)).
- Lease Violations: If a tenant violates a provision of the lease, the landlord should provide a three-day notice to quit. The landlord is not required to provide the tenant an opportunity to cure the breach to avoid eviction (Tex. Prop. Code § 24.005(b)).
Note: For the above three-day notices, if the lease or the law requires the landlord to provide the tenant an opportunity to respond or “cure” the breach, the landlord must provide that period before filing for eviction (Tex. Prop. Code § 24.005(e)).
The following notice applies in certain foreclosure cases, even if the tenant didn’t do anything wrong:
- Notice of Tax Foreclosure Sale: 30 days to quit. If the property is being purchased at a tax foreclosure sale and the tenant is not otherwise in default, the buyer must give that tenant at least 30 days’ written notice to vacate if they do not want to continue the lease (Tex. Prop. Code § 24.005(b)).
Other Laws and Facts About Texas
- The average rent rate in Texas is $1,278 per month.
- The median rent rate in Austin is $2,395 per month, around 10% higher than the national average.
- The Texas Department of Insurance recommends that landlords protect their traditional, long-term leases with landlord insurance. Landlord insurance in Texas can be added to a homeowner’s policy or a separate policy.