Texas state law does not put a limit on the amount that landlords can charge as a deposit. If a landlord does collect a deposit, which is recommended, they must then return it to the tenant, minus any deductions, within 30 days of the tenancy ending.
If a landlord makes any deductions from the deposit for damages or unpaid rent they must supply a written itemized list of any damages and the approximate cost of repair to the tenant, along with the balance of the tenant’s security deposit. (Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 92.104.)
Subsequently, the landlord is required to fix any such repairs within 30 days. The landlord may not retain any portion of a security deposit to cover normal wear and tear.
Texas law specifically requires landlords to “keep accurate records of all security deposits,” but doesn’t elaborate on what that means. (Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 92.106.)
For more information, see Texas Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines and review Texas’ security deposit laws codified in the Texas Property Code, sections 92.101 through 92.110.
While there is no limit on the amount of deposit you can charge, the typical amount is equal to one month’s rent.
Landlords are not required to place deposits in an interest-bearing account nor are they required to pay interest on deposits.
If the landlord does choose to place the security deposit in an interest-bearing account any interest earned will be paid to the landlord or landlord’s representative.
The security deposit is designed to compensate landlords for property damage or nonpayment of rent. As such, landlords in Texas can withhold part or all of the deposit for the following two reasons:
In Texas, landlords are free to store the security with other assets – otherwise known as commingling assets.
In Texas written rental agreements are required by law for tenancies that are longer than 12 months. However, even for tenancies that are shorter, it is advisable to have a written contract for added legal security.
If a rental agreement is signed then landlords must supply the tenant with the finalized version signed by both parties within 3 days after the agreement has been finalized.
Landlords can only use certain criteria when deciding which tenant applicant to select as pursuant to the Texas Property Code §92.3515 and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C.A., Section 1681, Chapter 41
These deciding factors are as follows:
The following items are examples of what may provide sufficient grounds to decline an applicant(s) and household members:
According to Texas law, the following items are required on the lease document:
The terms of the agreement should be clearly stated and tenants living in a residential unit in the state must be at least 18 years of age to occupy the unit.
Notice to terminate or change a month-to-month lease agreement: The landlord must provide 30 days’ notice to tenants when there are changes to the lease including a rent increase.
Notice to terminate a fixed term/ annual lease: Landlords must provide at least one month’s notice of their desire to terminate the tenancy.
If there isn’t a written tenancy agreement the landlord must notice equal to the rent interval period. For example, if the rent is paid monthly the landlord must provide a month’s notice to terminate the tenancy, if the rent is paid weekly then they must provide at least a week’s worth of notice.
Landlords are required to provide a rent receipt if the tenant pays in cash. However, using a system like Landlord Studio it is easy to provide a rent receipt for all payments and is a good way to ensure thorough and accurate records are kept.
Late fees are not a legal requirement in Texas. Many landlords though do charge a late fee either based on a fixed dollar amount or as a percentage of the rent amount. In order for the landlord to charge a late fee, it must be written into the rental agreement.
According to the Texas Property Code §92.109, the late fee must be a “reasonable estimate of uncertain damages to the landlord that is incapable of precise calculation and result from late payment of rent. The late fee must be based on some damage to the landlord.”
This suggests that late fees should not be too large otherwise they may not be honored if a tenant challenges them in court.
In Texas, there is a legal grace period of 1 day. Any rent paid after this period is late and a late fee can be added.
Landlords will typically offer a grace period outlined in the lease agreement of 1 day or more. By including this detail in the rental agreement landlords can be assured their tenants are aware of the exact date the late fee will be added.
If a tenant fails to pay rent after the grace period the landlord can declare the tenant in default under the lease agreement. If the rent remains unpaid the landlord must wait 3 more days before giving the tenant a “pay or quit notice”.
An eviction is a legal process through which a landlord can remove a tenant from their property. In Texas, evictions are also known as “forcible entry and detainer” or “forcible detainer” suits.
To evict due to non-payment of rent, the most common cause, the landlord must provide a notice to pay or quit 3 days after the rent is due. After this, the tenant has 3 days to either resolve the issue or leave.
Landlords can refuse to renew a lease at any time and for any reason so long as they do not discriminate against the protected classes, violate Fair Housing laws, or are seen as retaliating which would be in violation of the Texas Property Code.
A landlord will be seen to have retaliated if they terminate the lease, attempt to evict a tenant, deprive the tenant of the use of the premises, decrease certain services to a tenant, or increase the rent because a tenant tries to exercise his statutorily protected rights.
There are specific rules that protect tenants from retaliation in these scenarios. The most notable law is, should the landlord take adverse action against a tenant within six months of the tenant’s action it is presumed that they have retaliated.
If a landlord does engage in activity that constitutes unlawful retaliation, the tenant may seek a judgment against the landlord for:
It is important to remember that for the landlord to win, they will need to prove that their actions were not in any way retaliatory.
There are some scenarios that would justify the adverse action and as such their conduct would not be deemed retaliation. Examples of these scenarios include but are not limited to:
If the condition of the property is deemed a threat to the renting occupants health or safety they have the right to have this repaired by the landlord under the Texas Property Code.
Subchapter B of Ch. 92 (specifically §92.051 – §92.061) details the exact process that the tenant must follow in order to request and enforce their right to repair. It also provides details for remedies and recourses for the tenant if the landlord fails to repair within the 7 days required notice period (landlords have 7 days to make the repair after the tenant provides notice of the issue).
The rental agreement must contain language (either in bold or underlined) that informs the tenant of the remedies available should the landlord fault to make the repair within the required time period.
Examples of conditions that are a threat to health or safety include:
If the landlord fails to take necessary action, then the legal remedies that the tenants can legally take include:
The one exception to this rule pursuant to the Property Code, is in the scenario that the damages were caused by the tenant, household members, or guests. If this is the case, then the landlord is not responsible for the repairs even if they are a threat to the tenants health or safety.
If you wish to notify your landlord of a necessary repair on the premises, check out this Texas demand form.
As in most states, in Texas, the law affords special protection to victims of domestic violence. Landlords should not evict, threaten to evict or fail to renew a lease because a tenant has been a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or abuse.
Additionally, landlords must inform their tenants, in writing, that they may be allowed to break the lease early under certain circumstances involving domestic abuse or sexual assault. Should a tenant seek to break the lease early under these grounds landlords can require proof before releasing them from the lease, such as a police report.
On a final note, in the scenario, the rental agreement cannot prohibit the tenant from calling the police in the event of a domestic violence situation or otherwise penalize a domestic violence victim.
In Texas, landlords are only required to change the locks before a new tenant moves in if the keys are lost or stolen. The landlord must rekey at the tenant’s expense if requested by the tenant. The tenant can make an unlimited amount of requests. The Texas Property Code allows requests to be made orally unless a written lease states otherwise in underlined or bolded print.
Both residential and commercial landlords in Texas are required to provide certain security devices on the leased premises, including a deadbolt lock, pin lock, security bar lock, and window latch. Moreover, a landlord must rekey any security device operated by a key, card, or combination on an exterior door or window at the landlord’s expense no later than the seventh day after each tenant vacates the premises. If the landlord wants tenant requests concerning security devices to be in writing, then this request must be in the rental agreement in boldface type or underlined. Chapter 92, Subchapter D of the Texas Property Code details the laws on security devices further.
If a landlord fails to install a security device that is required without a tenant request or if the landlord fails to rekey within seven days after a tenant turnover, a tenant can do one or more of the following:
To see more on security and lock laws in Texas,read here.
Texas does not have any specific pet laws. Landlords are allowed to create their own requirements for pets, most notably, they can decide if pets are allowed, what size is allowed, etc.
Under Texas law and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with disabilities may bring their service animals to all public accommodations, such as government buildings, hotels, restaurants, stadiums, and stores. These laws also require those who operate transportation services to allow service animals. Both laws protect people in Texas who use service animals, and you are entitled to rely on whichever law gives you the most protection.
If a tenant has a service animal, he or she can give the landlord a ‘no pets’ waiver request. Landlords have the right to deny this request if allowing the pet causes the landlord financial or administrative burden. But it is very rare for a landlord to deny a service animal.
Finally, landlords are allowed to charge a pet deposit and additional pet rent if they choose.
There are three required lease disclosures in Texas:
Lead Paint Disclosure: Federal law requires landlords to disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before the lease takes effect. Additionally, under state law, landlords must provide this EPA-approved information pamphlet and fill out the following form.
Owner or Agent Identity: The landlord is responsible for disclosing, either in the lease or some other writing, the name and address(s) of the property owner. If there is another entity that is primarily responsible for the maintenance or upkeep of the property, their contact information (name and street address) should also be included in the lease or in writing in a separate document.
Utility Disclosure: A landlord who has agreed in the lease to provide and pay for water, gas, or electric service is liable to the tenant if the utility company has cut off utility service to the tenant or has given written notice to the tenant that such utility service is about to be cut off because of the landlord has failed to pay the utility bill.
Please note that the following two disclosures are only required in specific circumstances:
Landlord’s towing or parking rules and policies: For tenants in multi-unit dwellings, if the landlord has vehicle towing or parking rules or policies that apply to the tenant, the landlord is required to provide the tenant a copy of the rules or policies before the rental agreement is signed. The copy must be signed by the tenant, included in the lease or rental agreement. The clause must be underlined, capitalized, or in bold print.
Electric service interruption: If the landlord provides electric service, or master-metered electricity according to a prorated system, the landlord may interrupt the tenant’s electricity service if the tenant fails to pay the bill. However, the landlord can only stop service after notice has been given and according to a specific procedure. There are exceptions for ill tenants and during extreme weather.
Below, you will find references to areas of the Texas Property Code that govern rental properties and issues related to landlord-tenant law.
Texas Property Code Ch. 91: highlights provisions generally applicable to landlord and tenants
Texas Property Code Ch. 92: outlines laws relating to residential tenancies in Texas
Subchapter A: General Provisions
Subchapter B: Repair or Closing of Leasehold
Subchapter C: Security Deposits
Subchapter D: Security Devices
Subchapter E: Disclosure of Ownership And Management
Subchapter H: Retaliation
Texas Property Code Ch. 93: Commercial Tenancies
Texas Property Code Ch. 94: Manufactured Homes
Chapter 94 of the Texas Property Code highlights state-specific rules and regulations with regards to manufactured homes. Click on the link for more information.
Texas Property Code Ch. 24: Forcible Entry and Detainer (Discusses Evictions)
Texas Property Code Ch. 54: Exempt Property and Liens
This article is designed to convey information, and not to provide legal advice. You should not consider any information in this article to be legal advice. Readers should consider obtaining specific legal advice from an attorney for any decision or course of action contemplated.