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 Tiffany, TSAHC cannot provide advice about specific situations.  For all questions and concerns, we recommend contacting your local tenants council or legal aid services for assistance.

Tiffany

I rented a room which has two other roommates. The landlord lives next door.  Do they have the right to control what u do with yard like what type of plants you plant or where you store your garden stuff? The yard looks awful and I’m trying to make the grass become green again and clean out all the dead plants along the fence. I have a elephant ear I would like to plant (above ground) but they try to control everything even down to who does laundry what days.  We are 3 adult women and manage just fine w/o them getting involved.  Do they have the right to get involved? It not in the lease. Also they just come in the house whenever feel like it.  That is illegal correct?

Laura Ross

HI John, TSAHC cannot provide advice about specific circumstances. We recommend contacting your local tenants council.

John

This is a general question: 
1. Are tenants required to pay a sales use tax on renting carports/parking spaces based on Texas Comptrollers rule 3.315.
2. If so, wouldn’t that mean that a landlord would need a state tax certificate to collect taxes?
3. Would a landlord be able to start collecting these taxes in the middle of a lease.
Thank you.

Matt

You should seriously blog daily. This is awesome. I love reading this kind of content.

Laura Ross

Hi Crystal, TSAHC cannot provide advice about specific situations.  For all questions and concerns, we recommend contacting your local tenants council or legal aid services for assistance.

Laura Ross

Hi S. Nelson, your local tenants council or legal aid services can assist you.

Crystal

My mother has a mental illness and I live with her. I was not officially put onto the lease but I live with her because I cannot live independently. I pay for expenses in the home as I stay here as I complete my bachelor’s. The house is not always tidy because of my mom’s condition and I was diagnosed with cancer. Her landlord implied the state of apartment as my responsibility, even though the apartment is usually in a state of disrepair regardless if I am there. Does the landlord get to harass a guest and get involved in personal family matters?

S. Nelson

My apartment rent used to cover the cost of water & dumpster.  Then, they began charging an additional $35 month.  Now, we have to pay whatever whatever Hocutt, Inc determines.  Last month, it was $36.75 and this month it’s $58.21!  So, that’s $23.21 more than 2 months ago & the sky’s the limit!  My apartment isn’t metered so these random charges seem unfair.  Can they do this to an unmetered apartment?  Thank you for your advice or referral to someone who can help.  Sincerely, S. Nelson

Laura Ross

TSAHC cannot provide advice about specific situations.  For all questions and concerns, we recommend contacting your local tenants council or legal aid services for assistance.

Delynna Kelley

We moved into a house in Seabrook, TX. Within a month, the vents started leaking. We checked and the duct work from the AC has holes in it causing the leaks. We have told them about and they are putting insulation around the duct work. It is beginning to smell like water is sitting closed up and some areas look like they may be molding. What all would we have to do if they will not fix it properly and we want to get out of the contract with our $1500 deposit back?

Asha Tidwell

I’ve have been harassed by another tenant every time me and my daughter go swimming in the pool. She comes outside and videos us and leaves her door open the whole time we are there. She’s reported we don’t live her and manager verified we do but she still video records us daily. She doesn’t do this to anyone else just me and my daughter. I feel harassed eveytime I go. I have rheumatoid arthritis and dr says swimming is good for me to move around in. I don’t drink alcohol there or make loud sounds and we don’t play music like others. What can I do to get her to stop recording us? Do I have any right?

James

I know this is a sensitive subject, but here it is.  I was falsely accused and convicted of a sex crime with a minor more than 20yrs ago. I was released after 4yrs. I’ve never missed my appts, and have always abided by Texas laws in reporting.  My wife and I have lived in our motor home in an RV park for approximately 8 months. With zero problems. Today, my landlord called me and said that we have to move out by the 1st of August because of the reason for my incarceration.  We’re not behind on rent and have never caused problems. 
Can our landlord kick us out because of my record? And if she can, how long does the law say that we have before we have to move out? I was notified by a phone call from her. I was not sent anything in writing. Thank you for your help.

Rebecca

I live in a rental house as an occupant on the lease. The people I live with have created a hostile environment and it is no longer a livable situation. What are my rights?

Laura Ross

Hi Sarah, TSAHC cannot provide advice about specific situations.  We recommend you contact your local tenants council or legal aid services for assistance.

Laura Ross

Hi Angela, your local tenants council or legal aid services can assist you.

Laura Ross

Hi Tryp, your friend should contact her local tenants council or legal aid services for advice about her situation.

Laura Ross

Hi Michelle, TSAHC cannot provide advice about specific situations.  We recommend you contact your local tenants council or legal aid service for assistance.

Sarah Southerland

I just moved out of an apartment. After sharing my experience through rating apps(including belly button rings that I found by stepping on them, and various bobby pins, all in my carpet. But was told it’s brand new and that they have a receipt for it I was never shown) I received a call from management being yelled at, and they threatened to puplically post my personal information(a criminal background) if I didn’t stop. Is that even legal?

Angela Lowe

Please help… Issued an Eviction notice under wrongful accusations. I have been here 10 months out of my 12 month lease and have had four huge floods from plumbing and issued never resolved still leaks from upstairs to downstairs and toilets. I had no working AC for almost four months. I need advice ASAP

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