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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Your rent amount and due date
- Lease time period and month-to-month provisions after your lease expires
- Deposits and late fees
- 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.)
- 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.