Important COVID-19 Information and Resources  →

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

Anna Orendain

Hi Sherly, we’d recommend reaching out to your local tenants council or legal aid to resolve your issues.

aorendain@tsahc.org

Hi Ray, please reach out to your local tenants council or legal aid. They may be able to help you resolve your situation.

aorendain@tsahc.org

Hi Dionel, your closest Tenants Council may be able to help resolve your situation.

Sherly

My property owner hired a contractor to detect a water leak found after foundation was done on my home. The contractor digged a 6ft hole on the side of my house without contacting 811 2 days prior to digging, by law. The contractor cut my wire cord and possibly the power line because I had a power outrage minutes late after he cut the cable cord with the bulldozer. They have taken down the middle of my fence, which I live on the service rd of a highway. Easy access to my back door. I was out of work for 2 days due to the cable cord being cut, I work from home. The contractor didn’t finish the job, it’s 6 days later and still not done. The contractor have been lying to me about cutting/nipping the power line. What can I do about the lost wages I incurred and pain and suffering I’m going through?

Kopernikas Green

Everyone should be careful before rental agreement, cause rental agreement is the most important source of information about ours rights and responsibilities as a tenant, so we should make sure that we read it carefully before signing it

Ray

Me and my family are renting from a cousin of ours and we are
Being told to leave the house in 72 hrs during this pandemic. Well when the agreement was made to stay here it was on terms the house rent would be discounted as long as tepairs were being made because the property and house was in bad shape. Well 4 yrs later and almost 40k in repairs we fell behind during this crisis and now being told to leave. I dont have a problem leaving but we dont have money to pay this rent why would we have money to pay another place. It has also comes to my understanding that the owners have been keeping the property in the deceased person name and credit. So my questions are,  is it 72 hrs correct when no papers have been filed but landlord goes to police station does that 72 hr eviction final or would they have to take of to court? 2ndly, if i needed to get reimbursed for the repairs ive made and have to bring up the fraudulent mortgage under a decwased persons name will tbat stick or i dont have a case?

aorendain@tsahc.org

Hi Phoebe, we’d recommend reaching out to your local tenants council or legal aid to resolve your situation.

Dionel

Been in my apartments about 3 years now. We are under new management. Now IOC rent is t paid by the 7th we get eviction notices and fees. We paid the fees but don’t feel like that was right. Also now under new management we can’t have workout equipment on the back patio. That wasn’t stated whe we moved here.So we have to put a weight bench In the apartment. I think that’s crazy. Is any of this right what they are doing

PHOEBE G SAM

i live at mueller flat apts 1071 clayton ln austin,texas 78723 we always have bust water lines sometime our water is off for days and night. we are over charger for water sometimes my water bill is $215 amonth. i have a hole over my bathtube its been like these 4 weeks. i live on the first floor i had a leak over my tube and they put a hole there and cover it with a garbage bag. i live in apt 207 blvd #2. they have poor management.  they break in our cars and trucks nothing is done about it. we had $1000 worth of tools stole. we always flat tires.

aorendain@tsahc.org

Hi Amber, your local legal aid or tenants council will be the best resources for you in this situation.

aorendain@tsahc.org

Hi Paul, we’d recommend contacting your local tenants council for further assistance.

Amber LaShae

I signed my lease on May 30th but did not start moving things in until June 15 because I had another property leased as well. When it came time for the July 1st rent, my water bill was $150, and has ranged from $145- $150 every month since. A bot high I inquired and was told that there are some issues with the pipes and plumbing and that maintenance was working on it. A few days later my A/c went out. I waited a week for them to replace it, in the middle of the summer. Since then my a/c has been going out every month and I have to wait until the next month to get it fixed. We have no kitchen lights, and after a month of waiting, I was told that the light bulbs are still being ordered. My other issue is the leak we had in the ceiling that lasted a week, left brownish red stuff all over my ceiling and they have yet to come back and look at it.  Are these reasons to terminate my lease?

aorendain@tsahc.org

Hi LaTrinia, your closest Tenants Council may be able to help resolve your situation.

PAUL ALLEN

I just moved into a unit and the tenant below me plays his music 8-10 hours a day starting at 9 AM.  This is a chronic noise disturbance which I’ve requested he turn down his music which he has but it is still coming through the floor.  I’ve reported this to management and they have not done anything.  I’ve called the police a few times and they said they can’t enforce anything during non-quiet hours.  I want to break my lease and the management says I can but the terms are not agreeable with me since they want me to still be responsible for the rent until the place is rented.  Help!!! 
Please call me or email me.  Thank you.

LaTrinia McAdams

I feel like just because i recieve rental assitiant that I should not not say anything. But money is hard to come by for me as well. And no my hand is not out. before anyone come for me. I feel like I am a good tenant. I clean my house after i move out. I mean shampoo carpet and wrap down walls replace blinds that are needed. I leave the place the same way i find it. And before I got on public assistant i would always get my deposit back but now. Totally a different story. The house we are in now was a shit show for a lack of a better word. The people who lived here beofre should have been a shame of themselves. because the way they left this house was down right disgusting. But my husband and oldest child cleaned this housing from top to bottom we painted walls moved out old funiture. resurfaced floors powder washed walls. retiled floors tubs, everything. just to live in this house. because we were running from our last place wher our lives were threatened for being black. Now our new landlord she wants to change our deposit we have been paying it off. and i’m finished paying her but now she wants more.  We have been without heat for now a week. And she tells me that everyone lives with rats and roaches. look i’m from the counrty but i have never lived with rats or roaches. and these rat are the ones you see on TV. there are so big. plus it is starting in effect the kids my daughters skin is getting worse and my son’s allergies are so bad that his hearing comes and goes. my littlest one is on so much medicines that he is all over the place. my husband has lung issue eversince he was hurt on his oil field job. so its not like we just have so much money to just up and move. and we live in such a small town that legal aid has a list four years long that we are just lost . i think at this point i just need to know if i’m right or wrong for feeling wronged. Should i just go a head and pay her whatever she wants but where do i get the money. i have nothing. if i move she is not going to give me my despoist after i have cleaned this house and maade repairs out of my money. and she has offered to pay me back or even said thank you.

aorendain@tsahc.org

Hi Juanita, we would recommend reaching out to your closest tenants council or legal aid for further assistance.

Juanita Flores

I have lived in apts since 2008 I renew lease for a year since I am never late ,my lease is up Oct 31 2020 I got it for 6 mo. I ask why I want a year like I do every yr. The main manger told she ordered it ,I asked why is there a problem,  she just act,like she can pick and choose, who she wants to renew for a year , I asked her again why she said no reason she can do that if she chose s she told me I could check houston apt association,  that she do that again I asked do you have a reason ,will you renew ,me in 6 mo. She said she dose not know ,she never gave me a strait answer, I am 62 am disabled I have a caregiver, my son’s and daughter are my only visitors,  no parties , here no loud music,  no reason what’s so ever,  it’s like an eviction, she don’t have a reason ,to get me out so she is going a different route,  also my lease say 839 rent I pay899 they are being very sneaky,  maybe they upset their plumbing very bad and I report often thank you for allowing me to speak on my problem

aorendain@tsahc.org

HI Kaylea, your local legal aid or tenants council should be able to assist you in resolving your situation.

aorendain@tsahc.org

Hi Tammy, we’d recommend contacting legal aid or your local tenants council for assistance.

Kaylea

My apartment has a break down in the lease of all the charges. I’m supposed to receive a paper bill in the mail, and I pay $3 for that. When management changed hands, they moved to online bills, but when I signed the new lease it still said I would receive a paper bill. When questioned, I was told that I would receive one. Two months later, no paper bill and still being charged for that fee. I get told that we are charged the $3 for it to be emailed to us. Fast forward 7 months and I ask again because I stopped getting bills altogether. I’m told that I’m supposed to be receiving it by paper mail, and I’m not. Fast forward the next month and I receive an emailed bill, and so I asked why they are charging me for that, but everything says I’m supposed to receive a paper bill. My mistake was calling and not emailing for a paper trail up until a few months ago. It’s been two years now and that’s $72 for nothing and they can’t tell me why, other than the story keeps changing. In June 2020, the apartment cut off everyone’s cable without notice and the cable company charged every tenant for cable. That was a fight no one wanted to fight but we did. Ever since June, my internet goes out several times a day. Everyday, I’m restarting my modem and router 3 to 4 times a day. I pay the apartment complex for internet, but when I have problems, they tell me to contact the cable company that provides the internet. That company tells me to talk to my apartment. I’m at the point that I want to go with a different internet company altogether, but I don’t want to pay the apartment for internet if I do that. How can I get around this? The apartment tells me I have to put the internet in my name, but that I have to pay the apartment for it. Everything I’m reading about Texas Renter’s Rights with the Utilities tells me that this shouldn’t be a thing. That if I have to pay the apartment for it, then it doesn’t need to be in my name. What can I do? I need help.

Leave a Comment