Important Updates and Information  →

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

[email protected]

Hi Asahel, we’d recommend contacting your closest tenants rights council. They should be able to provide you with more detailed guidance.

Asahel paala

So I just move in. My rights have been completely violated. management agreed to stop the lease with no penalties BUT are not wanting to give my rent money back. Mind you I just moved in and it has not even been two weeks.
my apartment has severe black mold all over the apartment, my apartment was also broken into when I was at work for the past several days. they haven’t fixed the vents , water . bug infestation and the broken glass sliding door. I have been sleeping very uncomfortable with knowing my sliding door can easily be broken into. I am also a father of one child, I will not put a risk to my little one. the apartment was inhabitable they also showed me a completely different apartment that I was supposed to move into instead they gave me a whole run down apartment.  The main question is, Can I get my rent money back because I am moving out in a couple days .

[email protected]

Hi Emanuel, we’d recommend reaching out to your closest tenants council. They should be able to provide you with the most up-to-date answer for your question and provide you with assistance if needed.

[email protected]

Hi Deanna, we’d recommend reaching out to your closest tenants rights council or a trusted source of legal aid for more detailed help. If you need help paying your rent after being financially affected by COVID-19, you may find help by applying to the Texas Rent Relief program, which can be found here: https://texasrentrelief.com/

Emanuel

My partner & I live in an apartment complex in which the tenants are charged an allocated fee for water & sewer usage. The units in this complex are not equipped with dishwashers nor washer/dryer connections. The allocation fees seem pretty steep for a two-bedroom unit with two occupants; and it seems these allocation fees have only gotten higher every month.  We moved in January 2021, & the fees were $95.  They climbed to $125 & for the month of September 2021 we are being charged $142 for the allocation fee.  We’ve been given vague answers as to how these fees are calculated (square footage of the unit plus number of occupants).  I reached out to management to provide us with a more specific breakdown of how they came to charge us $142 for allocated water & sewage fees because that just seems to be a ridiculous charge for two occupants in their smaller two-bedroom unit floor plan.  They disclosed that not only is this “water and sewage” allocation fee calculated by what the retail utility charges the complex, but it is also inclusive of the costs that the apartment complex is billed for their electric, gas and trash services.  This doesn’t sound right to me.  I’m under the impression that the so-called allocation fees for water & sewage is supposed to be strictly based upon the cost of just these utilities which are billed to the apartment complex— and that somewhere in that figure the cost of water and sewage for common areas (like the pool or the laundry facilities) should either have a separate meter or a certain percentage should be deducted from the total bill.  Does any of this sound like price gauging?

Deanna L Ross

I have been living in a place where my landlord has turned off my utilities because she is trying to force me out of the house. I was 10 days late on my rent and when I went to take her the rent money she refused it and told me I had to be out in 2 days. I start crying asking her please I just started a new job and that it will get better from here I only have lived there for a month and she refuse to let me stay because she said that there has been no communication and that she ain’t going to go through it. Because of the last tenants left owing a 1000.00 dollars. I have done nothing wrong to them. Please help need advice please

[email protected]

Hi Phyllis, we’d recommend that you reach out to your closest tenants council. They should be able to advise you on how to proceed.

[email protected]

Hi Marisa, we’d recommend contacting a trusted source of legal aid or your closest tenants rights council to receive individualized advice for your issue.

[email protected]

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

[email protected]

Hi Stephanie, your closest tenants rights council should be able to guide you towards a solution.

[email protected]

Hi Tammy, we’d recommend reaching out to your closest tenants council or a trusted source of legal aid to find a solution to your issue.

PHYLLIS k ROWDEN

my next door neighbor gave me her travel trailer after she died the landlord wants me to pay both rents before i can move in to hers im going to move mine out of lot before rents due do i still have to pay both rents we have no lease month to month

Marisa Mendoza

My landlord has sold the property and has given us 6 weeks to move out. What are my rights??

Kayla

I’m on the lease but I wasn’t allowed to sign it. Landlord knows this. My roommates withheld the lease and we have a verbal agreement on a set rent amount. Lately they have been threatening to throw me and my belongings out of the house while I’m out and trying to raise the agreed amount of rent, because I now have a boyfriend. I need to know my rights in this situation, and if I’m legally able to leave if I haven’t signed the lease.

Stephanie lapointe

I have a quick question.if u have reported over and over again bout problems wuth neighbors and staff and nothing was done…by either manager nor assustant and still looming for help what can i do

Tammy

I moved in with my best friend Jan 2017. We shared room and bed until about two months ago. When he met a girl 2 days later fell in love and 6 days later started moving her in. Hey to each their own. In the last five months I have put over 7000 between cash/credit and my food stamps (which twice he took and spent 288 one time 158 another without permission)exhausting all my resources especially since I was helping him do side jobs that I am no longer aloud to be part of. He told me I could stay until I got a place for me n my kids and a job. But his gf got jealous bc he didn’t even have to ask me for a tool I knew what it was and got it out of habit.  I had also become there maid bc neither one or her child would clean up after them selves. I’ve taken care of her animals for days. She won’t leave me alone. And they keep trying to make my son their slave to the point her kid called them out on it. Is there anyway to stop her and do I have any chance at fighting eviction

[email protected]

Hi Melanie, we’d recommend reaching out to your closest tenants council or a trusted source of legal aid. They should be able to work with you one-on-one to resolve your situation.

Melanie Valenzuela

Our lease expires on 06/20/2022 but it’s necessary that we vacate earlier due to unsatisfactory with the apartment complex. We have on file many email dating back to June of us trying to get the noise resolved from the upstairs tenants, we are now going on month 3 now. This is causing us to lose sleep as they are running through their apartment till 11-12am. On top of this we have found that our trash that we pay monthly on is being pilled up by the garbage containers we do have photos of this occurring. We have sent an email on July 24th about the pest control and when can we get someone out and we have not received a response, this is becoming a problem as we have had some crickets crawl up our bedside walls and night stand other than the living room. We have dogs and are afraid they may try to eat them or get any infection the insect may carry. We have reached out about breaking our lease to management and they advised us we would need to pay 2 months rent total of $4,000, which we disagree with as we have tried everything to get the matter resolved, we have even offered for them to move us and we still have not bee able to get any information.

Marshill

Thanks for sharing the information.

[email protected]

Hi Amanda, reaching out to your closest tenants council or a trusted source of legal aid will be the best way to find help with your situation.

Leave a Comment