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).


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.


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

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.


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.



Hello Laura,

In Texas, you are not legally required to have renters insurance. However, your landlord is permitted to require it as part of your Texas rental application. There are several reasons for this, including minimizing their liability and ensuring the safety of those who rent or visit their properties. For more information, please contact your local tenants’ rights counsel.

Laura Fowler

If apartment complex requires Tenant liability and I get my own policy with State Farm Insurance, can they force me to pay for their liability coverage also.

Cole Park Apartments at 6804 Henneman Way McKinney Tx 75070 is stating this.


Hello Mike,

Thank you for your comment.  I’m sorry to hear of your problem.  It may be wise to contact your local tenants’ rights council for further legal discussion.


My landlord is trying to make me pay my half of the rent when my friend and I who is a disabled vet had an agreement that he pay the rent in full and I do the work to the house and take care of his meals and such but the landlord is interfering with our personal life and trying to control our financial situation here between us and telling him don’t pay my half just his and trying to make me leave saying I’m taking advantage of him and I’m not he is my best friend and it was him who made the decision to pay the rent in full as long xas I’m there to help him she has been harassing me and last month he paid it in full but she insisted I pay my half when I did my friend said he had already paid the rent in full and when I asked about it she said nothing and kept my money and is asking for my half again this month or for me to leave she has no authority to tell us who pays what as long as the rent is paid am I correct ....please help


Hello Ashli,

Have you discussed the problem with them yet, be sure to approach them first without taking any further action. If you have spoken with them, you might contact your local tenants’ rights council to see what rights you do have.


Is it legal for my landlord to force me to move to another unit after a major surgery. My daughter is 4 and runs ND jumps alot we are upstairs and I’m due to have my 2nd child in 2 days can she force us out after having a c section.


Hello Scwyana,

Is your landlord infringing on your rights as a tenant? Well, if you haven’t discussed the problem with them yet, be sure to approach them first without taking any further action. If you spoken with them several times about the issue and they still haven’t taken action, then you can take legal action. Consult a lawyer that specializes in real estate and housing. Contact your local tenants’ rights council or if you’re a student at a large university, your institution may offer free or discounted legal services to students.

Scwyana E Smith

I have a person posing as a landlord without a lease used a Pct to do an eviction without going to court or any legal documents of being a landlord.  Please help


Hello Rene,

As long as you are paying, landlords must generally stay out of a property as long as tenants are paying rent. The only exceptions are in the case of an emergency, a repair, or a house showing for potential tenants in the future. Most states require a landlord to give 24-hour notice before entering the unit, but that, too, can vary by city. Some areas have no set minimum for advance notice.


This month Apartment manager request to come in to do inspection on air unit change filter and check thermostat now less than 30 days they want to come in again. To inspect all rooms is this allowed. If so what do they need to inspect. An as a tenant do I have rights to complaint if they want repair the light at my front door and not fix the gate for security.


Hello Emily,
Well, if you haven’t discussed the problem with them yet, be sure to approach them first without taking any further action. If you spoken with them, you might contact your local tenants’ rights council about it.  If you’re a student at a large university, your institution may offer free or discounted legal services to students.


Hello La Shunda,
Thank you for writing in.  I’m sorry to hear of your trouble. 
Please contact your local tenants’ rights council to further discuss the legalities.


I live in a apartment complex and management is making every resident pay 80.00 a month for cable service and 20.00 a month for package service. I have my own cable and do not want to get the cable they offer and do not want my packages delivered by the service we have to pay 20.00 a month for. Can they force you to pay for extras you do not use? The package service was 10.00 a month and just went up to 20.00 so management is profiting 10.00 a month from each resident.

La Shunda N Smith

I need to report my landlord and I need to know my rights as a tenant. I been in my home for 16 years the property was bought by some more people. When we met the owners, it was an elderly Indian man and his father who brought the property.  The elderly man was really old he had a lot of health problems like he couldn’t hear. He was a great man we have a small dog in the home he didn’t have a problem with our dog, so he didn’t charge us. We have been with them for about 4 years now.  The older man health started to fail. So, we met him and his daughter she began to deal with us and the issues of the home. So now we are dealing with his daughter or so they say it’s his daughter it’s been so many people to deal with. The fence in the back yard fell completely apart we informed her about the fence that she never repaired but still asking for money. Thats been about 4 months now I have photos.  This is where the problem comes in the home has flooded the entire house was ruined far as the hardwood floors and the carpet. We informed her of the problem she filed an insurance claim had people come in and remove the hardwood floors an and put all my furniture in the garage and there is still mold from the wet carpet that they never removed. The people came in and tore up the entire floors except for the carpet. All of a sudden, the workers stopped coming and she started sending text messages. Talking about signing a new lease and the rent is going up from $1600 to $1850 and how she doesn’t like pets and there will be a pet deposit of $600. It been a month and the floors are still not fixed. She sent emails to sign a new lease if we don’t, she will evict us, but she hasn’t fixed these floors and there is still mold growing in this house.  But mind you we still haven’t heard from the owner. She will not have the owner contact us our lease is up, and I am not signing no lease with this house looking like this. I have pictures and text messages .I need answers please. 


Hello Venita,

The right to quiet, peaceable enjoyment of a rental property is an implied “covenant,” or promise, under the law. Many written leases also contain a clause guaranteeing a tenant’s ability to live peacefully in their rental property.

This covenant prevents a landlord from disturbing their tenants. It also makes the landlord responsible for other tenants who create disturbances. It does not make a landlord responsible for disturbances by strangers or people who do not also rent from them.

If your landlord’s actions or inaction regarding other tenants is disturbing you in your rental, you may contact your local tenants’ rights council who can advise you about how to proceed.


Hello Estie,

Thank you for your email.

Landlords are required to make routine repairs in a timely fashion, no matter how small. Major repairs that compromise day-to-day living for tenants should be a top priority. If your landlord does not respond to your first request, then send a second request with a repair deadline. After all, you are paying to live there. You are entitled to a clean, functioning household. If major repairs go ignored for more than five days, contact your local tenants’ rights council to discuss your options.

Venita Moreno

I have a tenant above me with 2 small kids that are making so much noise it’s giving me anxiety and stress. I work from home and it’s unbearable.  It’s not just walking it’s running, jumping and dropping things from morning till 10 or 11 pm. I tried to knock on their door no answer.  I have called the office at least 10 times and when into the office at least 5 times and nothing is being done. What can I do?


My husband and I have lived at The Historic Electric Building Apartments for almost five years. 

We have grown very concerned about the condition of our building.  During the time we’ve lived here, our windows have never been washed, machines in the laundry room are constantly broken…as are the garage doors and the elevators.  In fact, our middle elevator has been broken for the past year.  It is very common to have only one working elevator.  We’ve had to climb 15 floors on more than one occasion due to no working elevators.  I haven’t, but other residents that I have met have been stuck in the elevators.

Most concerning is the lack of water/hot water.  It is common for us to be without water and/or hot water.  Just in the past two weeks alone we’ve been without hot water/water at least 4 times.

In our apartment, I have lost count as to the number of leaks we’ve had (the floors are peeling because of the leaks), our refrigerator doesn’t work properly, the bathtub is peeling so badly that it’s next to impossible to keep clean, and the kitchen sink faucet is broken. 

I’ve reported these items multiple times, but with no response.  I suppose that’s because Greystar can’t seem to keep a manager or other staff on the property for longer than about two weeks. 

The lack of water/hot water is obviously our biggest concern.  To date I’ve filed a complaint with management (Greystar), the property owner (Tradewinds), the City of Fort Worth Code Compliance Department, and the Attorney General’s Office.  In my estimation, the owner/management are in violation of our lease via warranty of habitability.  What are the proper steps for us to take so that we can move without being penalized for breaking the lease?


Hello Andgerlea,

Thank you for your comment.  I’m sorry to hear of your problem.  It may be wise to contact your local tenants’ rights council for further legal discussion.


Hello Timothy,

Thank you for your question.  Where you store your property is negotiable.  But, it is between you and your landlord.  Open communication between you and your landlord is key to a good relationship.  If you haven’t already, let them know what is happening with the current storage space.

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