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.

TIRED OF RENTING? 

TSAHC helps Texas families purchase a home through our Homes for Texas Heroes and Home Sweet Texas Loan Programs. Both programs provide up to 5% in down payment assistance that you can put towards your down payment and closing costs. TSAHC also offers a Mortgage Credit Certificate Program for first time home buyers that provides a tax credit that can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your home loan. 

Take our Eligibility Quiz to see if you qualify for one or both assistance options. You can also compare assistance options by using our Program Comparison Calculator


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

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Hi Linda, please reach out to your closest tenants rights council or a trusted source of legal aid in order to receive the best advice on how to resolve your situation.

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Hi Vivian, your closest tenants rights council or a trusted source of legal aid should be able to connect you with the best resources to resolve your situation.

Vivian Caldwell-Adesida

I have complaint constantly about my upstairs neighbors and nothing is being done. It is a one-bedroom apartment with 5 people and a dog. My issue is the constant running, jumping, and stomping from the child and the dog that sounds like a herd of cows that happens on a nightly basis and goes on for hours. I have taken my complaint to the leasing office many times only to hear we will put a violation notice on their door or we will call them. The noise still persists. This is not just ordinary noise because I understand noise is going to be made, but this is not regular noise. The leasing office stated I need to call the police and I stated to her that’s not their job.  We are not able to get any peace in our household because of the constant noise. We asked to get out of our lease, but manager stated I will need to give a 60-day notice and pay 85% of the reletting fee. I asked why do I need to pay a reletting fee if you guys aren’t willing to do anything about the noise? It has gotten so bad that I don’t care to go to the apartment. Don’t know where else to turn but need some type of resolution here.

Linda

I’ve lived where I am for 11 yrs I am 63 an receive ssdi.ive never he a complaint against me nor have I complained about neighbors.recently I’ve had upstairs neighbors move in they’re just inconsiderate and rude and loud like they’re constantly stomping around upstairs these apartments are not very thick and I’ve gone up there and explain that that did no good I talk to my manager she said there’s nothing we could do about it during the day and nobody’s in the office at night so she basically told me there was nothing she could do about it I talked to her security guard and told me to contact the after-hours line and he would come out and go upstairs and maybe after a few times they would get the hint well that didn’t work either according to the manager the people upstairs complained about me harassing them when I haven’t they said that yell at them and scream at them I’ve never had a confrontation with them and she told me that if we can’t straighten it out between us she doesn’t want any more complaints from me or from them that judges ask his both to move I don’t think so I’ve been here 11 years and never had a problem they’ve been here 3 months and already have one it seems like my manager is lazy yes she is she’s young new very few years and doesn’t care actually it’s obvious so rather than settle it herself this was her response what can I do I’m on a fixed income I just can’t move and I don’t want any harassment but I’m going to get it I can tell you that because I’m getting it already from upstairs and I can’t do or say anything about it I don’t think that’s right

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Hi Madhu, we’d recommend reaching out to your closest tenants rights council, if you haven’t already. They’re usually a great resource for tenants going through situations like your own!

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Hi Laneil, we’d recommend contacting a trusted source of legal aid if you believe you are being discriminated against. If you’d like to learn more about your fair housing rights and how to file a complaint, you can do so here: https://www.hud.gov/fairhousing

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Hi Ruth, we’d recommend reaching out to your local tenants rights council. They should be the best resource in finding a solution to your issue.

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Hi Carol, we’d recommend contacting a trusted source of legal aid in order to resolve your issue.

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Hi Vanessa, we’d recommend reaching out to a trusted source of legal aid to help resolve your issue.

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Hi Erika, we’d recommend having your client reach out to their local tenants rights council. These organizations can often help work with landlords. Otherwise, we’d recommend reaching out to a trusted source of legal council.

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Hi Rayden, if you signed a lease with your mother, we’d recommend contacting your closest tenants rights council. They should be able to guide you to a solution for your issue.

Madhu

Hello,
I vacated my house and moved to a new place. We never defaulted on the rent. It is an old house built in 2003. The landlord has not changed anything and only repaired things when it was dire. He is harassing us after we vacated for every normal wear and tear issues like white paint gone(nothing was hung or nailed). It hasn’t been painted for 5 years. And, small issues like wear and tear of cabinets(not replaced for 20 years) and we got them professionally cleaned.

Do we need to get an attorney? How much does it cost?

Thanks,

Laneil

I am being harassed after four years of renting. I I am being bullied and discriminated against. I really need to speak to someone. I’m from Oklahoma and really unsure if Texas rights. I’m not due to be out my place until 4/30 and since 3/18 I have been pressured and stressed. Disrespected and discriminated against. I’m tired. I’ve called several agencies for help and no luck so far. Being antagonized constantly and I’m a good tenant. I’m only concerned that the house is being shown while we are still here. We’ve barely got to pack and I was told repairs need to be done by 4/1 I have limited money and since this is an unexpected move I am still locating another dwelling. I’m hoping mark will be worn my son has a disability and in a wheel chair and is in his latter stages of the disease and cannot become in contact with someone who may possibly have COVID-19. I was yelled at because I don’t know how to put a lockbox together that she placed on the door. I sent an email stating I didn’t feel comfortable putting that together for her to send her team. She sends a neighbor who she’s told all my personal business to be came over and said to me “ I heard your leaving ?” I’m am so tired of this. I am still seeking counsel and help.  I don’t owe any money. House is super clean and nice since day one. She was also wanting me to have my place set up for showings and I told her we are packing up the items because she’s showing the property while we at in the process of moving and I don’t feel my items will be safe.

Ruth Kelley

Can the landlord disconnect the water & elec from your RV that you live in behind the store w
That you & your husband worked at until my husband went 2 jail. Then fired me cuz of the charges my husband got. So by law since this is my address I receive all my mail here at the store do t they have 2 evict me first b4 they are allowed 2 do that? I do t know the laws here I. Texas cuz I e only been here a year now. Please get back in contact 2i5h me & let me know something plz & thx. Have a blessed night & God bless you

Carol Brown

My daughter has seizures.  The spartment management came by this morning, knocked once and opened the front door.  My daughter, who was asleep unfortunately in the nude woke up,said something, after which the subject shut the door.  My daughter immediately called me which I told her to lock the top lock.  Approximately
10 minutes later, he tried again.  I advised her to contact the police and have them verify who he was.  The police responded, stopped him during which he advised that he was doing fire alarm safety checks.  My daughter never heard him test any of the 4 apartment fire alarms .  This incident caused her to have a seizure.  The apartment complex sent them an email stating they had 3 days to get out because they have a dog over 45 pounds in the apartment .  3 of the 4 apartments have larger dogs also.  I feel this is retaliation because she called the Police.  What r their rights

Vanessa

I went to my property manager and told her that a tenant harasses me consistently.  One even was at my children’s school and she was even escorted off property. When the police were involved I was told to contact my property manager. She did nothing but tell me she wasn’t a babysitter. Confirmed by other tenants they have seen her around my townhome and even flicks her cigarettes in the back of my patio.  It got to the point where her son harasses mine now. It wasn’t until I asked for her supervisors # she set up a meeting in her office she is never in. I have emails about the school bullying as well. She did nothing but tell me and her to vacate. Even though I went to her for help is she right in terminating my lease?

Erika Garcia

I am looking for guidance regarding an infested apartment unit. I have a client living in an apartment that has had issues with roaches, mice, and termites. The landlord refuses to fix the problem. Please advise.

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Hi Carrie, we’d recommend reaching out to your local tenants rights council, as they’ll be able to provide you with more detailed assistance.

[email protected]

Hi Deborah, we’d recommend reaching out to your closest tenants rights council or a trusted source of legal aid in order to resolve your situation.

[email protected]

Hi Carolyn, we’d recommend reaching out to your closest tenants rights council as they should be able to guide you through the process of requesting repairs from your landlord.

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