Amendments to Texas Renter’s Laws
There have recently been some amendments to Texas renter’s laws that many people may or may not know about.
In Texas, the relationship between a landlord and a tenant is largely controlled by the terms of their lease agreement. Tenants should always ask to have a lease in writing and make sure that they are given a copy of the lease by the landlord once it has been signed. They should make sure that they review it very carefully in the presence of the landlord before signing so they can make sure that they understand all the terms. They may, at that time, request that the landlord make certain changes to the lease. The landlord is not obligated to comply with this request and the tenant has the choice to sign the lease and rent the apartment if he or she does not.
Many landlords will ask the prospective tenant to fill out a rental application so that they can check their credit and rental histories. The changes to Texas renter’s laws have to do with rental applications. The landlord may ask the tenant for a rental application fee. As of January 1, 2008 rental application fees are now considered to be non-refundable payments given to the landlord to help offset the costs incurred when screen potential tenants. If the application ends up being refused, the landlord is obligated to tell the tenant why they were rejected. If the landlord chooses not to disclose the reason, he or she must refund the application fee.
Texas renter’s laws also guarantee tenants the right to something called “quiet enjoyment” of their rental unit. This means that other residents who are being disruptive and overly noisy can be reported to the landlord. The landlord is obligated to remedy the situation with the disruptive tenants.
Landlords are also required under Texas renter’s laws to ensure that their tenant’s dwellings are safe and secure. This means that they are required by law to place deadbolt locks on all exterior doors and place smoke detectors inside all rental units. There must be at least one smoke detector inside each rental unit and it must be placed either on the ceiling or wall. Any tenant whose rental unit does not have a smoke detector can demand that the landlord install one. The landlord has a reasonable amount of time to comply with this, usually about 7 days.
Landlords are also obligated to ensure that their rental units are safe which means that there should be no vermin or pests in the units. Any tenant who detects these should contact their landlord immediately and inform him or her of the situation. The landlord then has only a certain period of time to remove the vermin or pests from the premises. In these cases, a tenant must follow a certain procedure if they wish to make a formal complain to their municipality and they should look into these so that they can make sure they comply with all the requirements.