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Know Your Rights as a Tenant

August 21, 2015 | by Katie Claflin

Categories: Rental Housing

Texas state law provides rental housing tenants with basic rights to help ensure their health, safety and security and to protect them from discrimination.  Knowing these rights can help tenants identify if their rights have been violated and, if necessary, take action to defend themselves.

According to the Texas Attorney General, Texas tenants are entitled to the following rights:

  1. The right to "quiet enjoyment" of your home. This means your landlord cannot evict you without proper cause (most commonly nonpayment of rent) or otherwise disturb your right to live in peace and quiet.  Your landlord must also protect you from any wrongful actions taken by other tenants.
  2. The right to health and safety in your home. Your landlord has an obligation to repair any conditions in your home that negatively affect your health and safety. 
  3. The right to security in your home.  Your landlord must provide you with basic security measures for your home, which include working window latches; deadbolts on exterior doors; locks, latches or security bars on sliding doors, and door viewers (peep holes).

The Rental Agreement

Your rental agreement is the most important source of information about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, so make sure you read it carefully before signing it. In it you will find:

  1. Your rent amount and due date
  2. Lease time period and month-to-month provisions after your lease expires
  3. Deposits and late fees
  4. House rules (even if these are not provided as part of your lease document, make sure your landlord provides you with a written copy of any rules or regulations, such as pet policies, insurance requirements, visitor policies, etc.)
  5. The circumstances in which your landlord has the right to enter your home

For more information about rental agreements and your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, please refer to the Tenants’ Rights Handbook produced by the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Young Lawyers Association.

What to Do if Your Rights Have Been Violated

If you think your rights have been violated, you may be entitled to terminate your lease or obtain other remedies.  You do NOT have the right to withhold your rent payment, and doing so may give your landlord the ability to evict you or even file suit against you. We recommend the resources below, which can provide you with additional guidance.

Website of the Texas Attorney General

Texas Tenant Advisor

Austin Tenants’ Council

Tenants’ Council of Houston

Texas Tenants’ Union (Dallas-based)

Texas Workforce Commission- Civil Rights Division (specifically for tenants who believe they may be a victim of housing discrimination)

**Please note that the purpose of this blog is to be informative. TSAHC cannot provide advice about specific circumstances or situations. If you have a question or concern, please contact your local tenants council or legal aid service.


On the House blog posts are meant to provide general information on various housing-related issues, research and programs. We are not liable for any errors or inaccuracies in the information provided by blog sources. Furthermore, this blog is not legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.

Comments

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Hi Elizabeth, we’d recommend contacting your local tenants rights council or a trusted source of legal advice for recommendations on how to resolve your specific question.

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Hi Kay, we’d recommend reaching out to your closest tenants rights council for a more detailed solution.

Elizabeth E Little

I’m moving the first of February, I told my landlord in Dec we were moving in Feb. He wanted us to sign a two year lease. We’ve been here for eight and a half years, he doesn’t want to fix anything. My sink has been clogged for at least six months, he told me to buy drano and plunge. Now my hot water heater went out. Now he’s telling me he wants to come in the house while we’re trying to move and assess the damages we’ve done. I told him he can do that after we move. I’m going through cancer treatment and don’t want to be exposed to anyone outside my family I live with with all this COVID stuff going on. But anyways, he has told me he can come up in my house anytime and he don’t have to get permission from me, this is his property. Can he do that? Just asking.

Kay Nelson

I have lived in my rental home for 8 years.  Since then it was bought, sold, and sold again.  The current owner has owned for 14 months.  The house has a joist problem that needs to be repaired but nothing has been done in it, tho several contractors have been out to look at it.  Today, my property manager texted me that I need to pay a $960 security deposit.  The rent was $920 when they bought it and has gone up $20 twice.  Are they allowed to charge that after so many years?

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Hi Mary, we’d recommend reaching out to a local tenants rights council or a trusted source of legal aid for further assistance.

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Hi Marigail, your closest tenants rights council or a trusted source of legal aid should be able to guide you towards a resolution for your situation.

[email protected]

Hi Eddie, we’d recommend contacting your closest tenants rights council or a trusted source of legal aid in order to resolve your issue.

[email protected]

Hi SR, we’d recommend contacting your closest local tenants council. They should be able to offer you with more detailed information.

[email protected]

Hi Breanna, we’d recommend reaching out to your closest tenants council or a trusted source of legal aid for further assistance.

[email protected]

Hi Radiah, your closest tenants rights council should be able to offer you with more detailed assistance.

Mary Gottschalk

I’ve lived in the same rental home for 10 years. During the Texas Ice Storm, I had 2 major ceilings collapse and asbestos came down a !ong with the insulation. ( according to the insurance adjuster). Since then, my landlord has done very little repairs and I’ve been exposed to mold and asbestos. They’ve had me move all my belongings from the bedroom into the living room for 6 months now. In September, my landlord told me she was going to sell the house because she was frustrated with the entire situation. She verbally told me to move out by December. I haven’t found a place to live because I’m on a fixed income and all the places I’ve found have been too expensive. So, I paid the rent in December. She is denying I paid the rent and on December 14, she posted a written letter asking me to vacate in 3 days. I have proof I paid her the rent. She asks me to pay her in cash because she doesn’t want a paper trail showing that she’s using this house as rental property. So she never gives me receits, I take a picture of the cash with the date and the details on an envelope every single month. In case this would ever happen. I never heard back from her again after she posted the 3day eviction. I still haven’t found a home, but I’m looking furiously for something. I’m living in fear at this point. She always brings her one of her adult sons when she wants to talk with me. I’m a disabled widow and its frightening to have any kind of conversation with her. She has bullied me many times over the past years. I intend to send the rent with a certified check in the mail,but I know this is going to upset her since she demands cash.

Marigail Cooper

I’m on housing.  My landlord asked my PHA for a rent increase.  It was granted.  My portion of rent was $39.  As soon as they approved my landlord’s request for rent increase, they raised my portion to $257 a month instead of $39.  I got no written notice from anyone like I was supposed to about my rent portion increase.  My PHA mailed me an amended rental contract showing his increase but that was it.  That was 12/3/21 and I’m supposed to pay that increase 1/1/22.  I don’t think so and I’m not.

Eddie Palmer

I’m 100% disabled and have a service dog and I’m always arguing with the land owner when my dog is out in my yard without a leash. I own my trailer but not the land. I ask the lands owner If I could put up a fence so I don’t always have to walk my dog. 3 back surgeries and I neck surgery can make it hard on me to take my dog out all the time and if I had a small fence I could let my dog in would help me out lot physically. My family have lived in this mobile home for over 20 years, so as a disabled tenant I feel discriminated against. My land owner knows I can’t constantly walk my dog or take care of myself at times, he sees my family having to come stay with me at times to help me out. I need some of this land fended so my dog can go outside when there are timess as I can’t walk him.
The land owner threatened to fine me $50 less then 2 weeks after my back surgery. So I had to cut my grass with 2 incisions on my back.

SR

I live in a downstairs apartment with one apartment above me. Previous tenants upstairs were somewhat noisy during the short time they lived there and now there is a new family living above me and they are loud (stomping, jumping, dropping heavy things, etc.) all day, starting at 430am and not letting up until around 9pm. I have complained to the office but they say I just have to deal with it because they can’t tell people not to simply walk in their own apartment. I assure you, the noise that comes from above me is not from walking normally. I would gladly move out but I would have to pay thousands of dollars to do so. What are my rights?

Breanna

I signed an apt lease last year in Houston and my lease ended December 2nd,2021, However,  due to the fact it was my first year renting I was unaware of the 60 day non renewal notice I’m supposed to give my landlord before my lease is up. On the contrary, I did give a 31 day oral notice over the phone to the property manager in which they have the recording of but didn’t accept.  So, I gave my written notice on November 30th and I have complied with paying month to month for the next 60 days to which the property manager agreed I could stay in the unit within those 60 days. The problem that I am running into is now with the leasing agents who are persistent with requiring I give them a date in which I will turn in my keys. When I told them the property manager said I can stay within the 60 days since I am paying, they made the mistake in telling me my unit is on the market and need a specific date when I will be turning in my keys. The property manager has told me I am entitled to stay in the unit within the 60 days but the leasing agents are urgent to get my to turn in my keys ASAP.  Needless to say, I have been told by property owners that if someone rents my unit out within the 60 days that I no longer have to pay month to month charges. Is this true?

Radiah Simone Fort

I need to get some answers in regards to an illegal kick out of my apartment?  I just wanted to see if there are any kind of rules against this?

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Hi June, please reach out to your closest tenants rights group or a trusted source of legal aid. They should be able to provide you with more individualized support and point you towards a solution.

[email protected]

Hi George, we’d recommend reaching out to your closest tenants rights council for a more detailed solution!

June

I was threatened and harassed by another tenant in my housing community. They moved me so I would be separated from him. I’m a disabled battered woman. I presented my story in a written letter to the housing board. The office then hiding from the board hired this man as a maintenance assistant and now possibly has the skeleton key to my residence. That is the only lock on my door. So after hours he has free range to my residence after threatening my life and harassing me.

[email protected]

Hi Montoya, we’d recommend reaching out to your closest tenants rights council or a trusted source of legal aid.

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