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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

aorendain@tsahc.org

Hi Kathy, we’d recommend you reach out to your apartment’s leasing office, your closest tenants council, or a trusted source of legal aid to better resolve your issue!

Kathy

I am renting a room from a lady in some apartments and now she is going to give the apartment up and there is no contract with me I moved in on the 9 of February and yesterday is when she told me that she was giving the apartment up and she said that she wants me to pay rent when I am moving out this weekend

aorendain@tsahc.org

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

aorendain@tsahc.org

Hi Justin, we’d recommend contacting your closest tenants rights council or trusted legal aid for more specific advice on how best to resolve your situation.

Taylor clodfelter

Hello, So our AC unit went out on feb 11th.The landlord said my fiance could help him with the uninstall andinstall instead of paying rent for feb wich he did help.spent 4 days doing all the work.Well the landlord didn’t install a new ac unit until april 3rd!!! We went that long with three little heaters and a ac unit he put in the window.well we have an infant and the ac does not reach back to his room and the back bedrooms.his room was 77-78 degrees no ventilation! anyways now he is asking for rent for that month after he said my fiance could do the work instead!not to mention the attic door is still not on and wide open and it’s been three weeks!!

Justin Berry

I was trying to get information about the application process for the Escapades apartments on their website. I clicked the “I agree” button under the bolded words starting the admin fee and application fee, figuring that I wouldn’t have to worry about it until the actual process begins. After giving them some basic information about myself, I received a call from them a couple days later to schedule an appointment to look over the lease and take a tour of the apartment, not once being informed that I had already been charged with both fees. The lady on the phone specifically said that I wouldn’t have to pay until the process is finished and I’m about to sign. A few days after the call, I called them back to cancel the appointment since I ended up not making as much money at my job as I both expected to and needed to for the lease. All they said was that the appointment was cancelled and to have a nice day. Over a month later today, I get a call from a credit company that tells me I have a debt of $180 to the Escapades for the admin fee and application fee. I told the lady from the credit company that I never signed anything with them, and she rudely says that I actually did, by filling out the online application (which I was never informed was something I’d be charged with), and when I tell her that they never told me about this or sent me anything, she says that they actually did send me a letter to my address on March 2, which I never received (and I would know if it did since I’m the one who checks the mailbox). Are they actually allowed to charge me without informing me of the charge, is clicking a button on a website the same as signing a legal agreement with additional fees that I become responsible for just by clicking the button, and since I actually didn’t agree to any of this and most importantly never became a tenant of their apartment am I under any obligation to pay them?

aorendain@tsahc.org

Hi Marisol, we’d recommend reaching out to your closest tenants council, a trusted source of legal aid, or a HUD-certified housing counselor in order to resolve your situation.

aorendain@tsahc.org

Hi Mario, we’d recommend reaching out to a trusted source of legal aid in order to resolve your situation.

aorendain@tsahc.org

Hi Criselda, we’d recommend reaching out to your closest tenants council or trusted legal aid.

aorendain@tsahc.org

Hi Summer,  your closest tenants council or trusted legal aid should be able to help you resolve your situation.

aorendain@tsahc.org

Hi Sonja, we would recommend consulting your lease agreement and reaching out to a local tenants rights council or legal aid for more detailed assistance.

aorendain@tsahc.org

Hi Deb, we’d recommend reaching out to your local tenants council or legal aid in order to resolve your issue.

Marisol Estrada

I was transferred within the same complex in Dec.2020 I signed a lease on the 4th of Dec but wasn’t given keys until the 30th. I moved to new unit and was asked to pay prorated 250. Now April 1st. Im told my old unit was sent to collections as broken lease my deposits and transfer fees were “misplaced” and my monthly payments for new unit weren’t placed in system. I speak to mng for 2 hrs she brings the$ 3,700balance down to $1795. Says I have to pay $809 from Dec because old staff didnt charge me and my month rent for April in order for them to probably refund me my misplaced $583 and clear my credit. Is this normal? Why are they asking me to pay more money to fix their mistakes? 600east apts in arlington. Also gave me a pre eviction notice for this balance that I’ve paid.

Mario Cisneros

I hope someone can help me out. My landlord is friend of mine. She asked for my help to fix the roof of the house. I told her that I would help with advancing her the rent. Then I also helped her with the foundation of the house and she agreed with the advancement of rent. It was a lot of money. I hurt my my back and couldn’t work for awhile. I couldn’t give her any rent because I was not working. Now she wants to evict me. What can I do?

Criselda Ramos

I live in an apartment complex and there are a couple of tenants with loud muffler vehicles that drive by every single day and thru out the day and as they’re passing by the complex to either get out of the complex or coming in, they rev their engines, so as to make the obnoxiously LOUD muffler sound of their vehicles.  As I stated, this will happen thru out the day (morning, noon and night)  Once it was at 3:00 a. m.; woke me up in a scared state. 
I work from home and on the phone with customers; I do sit by the window and have been on the phone a few times when the vehicle passes by revving their engines. 
I know it isn’t done to any one direct person or building; but I live in the front of the building/complex and I hear it each and every time. 
My other concerns are that if the noise scares and annoys me and I should be used to it; how does this affect a baby or an elderly person or the tenant who works nights and are asleep during the day or an animal for that matter.  I have reported it to the office admin and they said they would let the manager know to send out a letter to be considerate of the living residents and times they rev their engines; but I honestly don’t think that’s been done. 
Is there anything further that can be done?

Green Leaf Air Austin

I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well
written!

Summer Jackson

On feb 11th my place was flooded. So all of my belongings were ruined and or damaged. Management ended up coming to see the damage and took all my carpet out. It’s been like this ever since and it’s March 18th now. Due to not having carpet I’ve been staying at a friends place. Now I’m home but it’s very inconvenient and uncomfortable to have to put shoes on my feet whenever I want to walk around my home. My son is very uncomfortable with this matter, he can not play on the floor nor can he walk comfortably. I’ve called at least 5 times and spoke to someone face to face 4 times. These people ended up putting new carpet in another apartment because they’ve “had there new tenants waiting for a month”. Now I wouldn’t be upset if this was handled within the week of it happening or the next one.
I’m wondering what I could do?

Sonja Morris

I rent a room. The owner also lives there. A friend needed to borrow my shower. My landlord raised hell and told me i had no right to do that. I dont even have a lock on my bedroom. None of the exterior doors lock either.

thomas nunez

very good info to know. specially after i almost got kicked out of my home.

deb

Winter storm 2021
Do we have rights as a tenant when we where without water for 13 days,  (days after the city restored water usage) because of lack of plumbing supplies and each apt building had to be inspected for broken pipes before the water restored?

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