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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

Laura Ross

Hi Amy, we suggest contacting your local tenants council or legal aid services for assistance. Additionally, the Texas Apartment Association has provided a list of resources and information to assist renters as they navigate these uncertain times. The list can be found here: https://www.taa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/TAA-Cororavirus-Renter-Resources-1.pdf

Laura Ross

Hi Whitney, we recommend contacting your local tenants council with your questions.

Laura Ross

Hi Josh, TSAHC can not provide advice on specific circumstances or situations. We suggest that you contact your local tenant council or legal aid services

Amy

Hi there!
Can you please point me in the right direction to determine whether my dad has any protections during this COVID crisis? His landlord has served him with a notice of a rent increase (effective June 1) with threat to evict if he does not comply.
He is high risk and unemployed during this time, unfortunately.
His building is a quadruplex.
I am not sure how to help him determine whether his landlord’s mortgage is backed by any of the federal programs that would then qualify him for protection under the CARE act.
Do you have any suggestions, recommendations and/or resources you could point me in the direction of?
Thank you!

Whitney

I have terrible allergies, as does my son who is 14 mo. Old. I’m pregnant and due in August. We are about to move into a rental house. The carpets have not been replaced since before the previous tenants (8 years ago), and there are stains and wear on the carpet. Is my landlord required to replace the carpet?

Josh

wanting to know what my rights are with evicting my ex from my apartment she is not on the lease and wanting to know how about going about that

Laura Ross

Hi Jay, we recommend contacting your local tenant council or legal aid services for guidance.

Laura Ross

Hi Gregory, we recommend contacting your local tenants council with your questions.

Laura Ross

Hi Jim, we recommend contacting your local tenant council with your question.

Laura Ross

Hi RR, we recommend that you contact your local tenant council for guidance.

Laura Ross

Hi Ozzy, TSAHC can not provide advice on specific circumstances or situations. We suggest that you contact your local tenant council or legal aid services for advice on how to proceed.

Laura Ross

Hi Susan, we recommend you contact your local tenant council for guidance about your question.

Laura Ross

Hi Samuel,  we recommend that you contact the Austin Tenant Council with your question. Their website and contact information can be found here: https://www.housing-rights.org/. Also, congratulations on the upcoming arrival of your twins!

Laura Ross

Hi Charles, we recommend contacting your local tenant council who can help with your question. Additionally, the Texas Apartment Association has provided a list of resources and information to assist renters as they navigate these uncertain times. The list can be found here: https://www.taa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/TAA-Cororavirus-Renter-Resources-1.pdf

Laura Ross

I’m so sorry, Thelma. We recommend contacting legal aid services for assistance.  A list of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid offices can be found on their website at http://www.trla.org/office. The Texas Apartment Association has also provided a list of resources and information to assist renters during these uncertain times. The list can be found here: https://www.taa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/TAA-Cororavirus-Renter-Resources-1.pdf

Laura Ross

Hi Stacy, we recommend that you contact your local tenant council or legal aid services who can help you with this matter.

Laura Ross

I’m so sorry, Vanessa. We suggest you contact legal aid services for assistance.  A list of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid offices can be found on their website at http://www.trla.org/office.

Laura Ross

Hi Harold, TSAHC can not provide advice on specific circumstances or situations. We suggest that you contact your local tenant council or legal aid services for advice on how to proceed.

Laura Ross

Hi William, we suggest that you contact your local tenant council for advice about your situation.

Jay

Hi! I was wondering if breaking my lease will have a negative impact in my credit and my ability to sign a new lease in the future

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