Helpful Info for Renters

Are you a renter? Here’s some helpful information about renting in Texas.

More than 6 million Texans–about one in five–rent their homes. A number of state and federal laws are in place to ensure that rental housing residents and property owners are treated fairly.

Here is some basic information about renting a home or apartment in Texas. Many problems can be avoided by carefully reading and following the provisions included in a written lease.

Special information for dealing with coronavirus/COVID-19:

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Rental Assistance Finder

Renters having trouble paying rent, utilities, or other housing costs – or property owners trying to stay afloat with residents in this situation – help may be available. State and local programs are distributing billions of dollars in rental assistance to help renters stay housed during the pandemic.

Visit the CFPB’s Rental Assistance Finder to find out what this means for you and what you can do. The CFPB’s site also includes resources to help renters and property owners understand other resources to help navigate various financial hardships related to the pandemic. This new tool will be available as of July 28, 2021.

Information on Texas Rent Relief program (English)

(Note: Apply online, or get more information about the program. Property owners and renters can also apply for assistance by calling 1-833-989-7368 Monday – Saturday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Call volume may be high, so you may have to keep calling.)


NOTE: TDHCA made improvements to the application process for the Texas Rent Relief program. If you submitted an application under the original process, you should have received an email with instructions on how to access your information in the new process. The main information page for the program is

If you have questions, please contact TDHCA toll-free at 833-9TX-RENT (833-989-7368) Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.


El Programa de Asistencia para el Pago de Rentas está aquí para ayudarles (Information on Texas Rent Relief Program−Spanish)

Resources for Renters from the Texas Apartment Association (includes FAQs related to coronavirus/COVID-19 and contacts of local groups that may offer assistance)

Frente al COVID-19: Recursos para inquilinos (Spanish Resources for Renters from the Texas Apartment Association)

Also see the additional information, below.

List of local organizations on the Texas Department of Housing and Community Services website that might provide short-term rental assistance, eviction relief, homeless shelters and services.

If you have questions about needed repairs resulting from Winter Storm Uri, see the “Frequently Asked Questions After a Disaster” section on this page and the other general information about renter’s rights and responsibilities. Some other information related to applying for FEMA or Small Business Administration assistance has also been added below.

Updated August 11, 2021

Texas Rent Relief Program

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) has received approximately $1.3 billion in Emergency Rental Assistance funds from the Coronavirus Relief Bill Rental Assistance Program. TDHCA is using the funds to help Texas renters pay rent and utility bills (including past due rent and utilities).

Additional information about the program

TDHCA’s Texas Rent Relief program website and phone systems are up and running and ready to answer questions. TDHCA began accepting applications from landlords and tenants February 15, 2021, at 8 a.m. Central Time.

  1. Learn more and apply online at
  2. Learn more and apply by phone at 833-9TX-RENT / 833-989-7368.
  3. The application and certification process was simplified in late April. If you have not looked at the program recently, you may wish to check it out again now.

Program eligibility and requirements

The Texas Rent Relief program can help with the following costs starting as far back as March 13, 2020:

  • Past due, current and up to 3 months of expected rent costs
  • Past due, current or up to 3 months of expected utility and home energy expenses
  • After the initial 3 months of forward assistance, households can apply for 3 additional months of assistance if funds are still available

Households must have incomes at or below 80% of the Area Median Income and meet other qualifications. Full details are available at Applicants can complete an application by phone or submitting an online application at starting 8 a.m. on Mon., Feb. 15.

Program eligibility information is currently available at or by calling Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. 1-833-9TX-RENT (1-833-989-7368) to speak with someone directly. Assistance is available in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Korean.

(Note: Apply online, or get more information about the program. Property owners and renters can also apply for assistance by calling 1-833-989-7368 Monday – Saturday, 8 a.m.- 6 p.m. Call volume may be high, so you may have to keep calling.)

Texas Eviction Diversion Program

Texas Rent Relief allocated 10 percent of the funds for the Eviction Diversion Program, which is available statewide. Tenant applications for rent relief that provide an eviction court docket number are prioritized. This program may provide up to 15 months’ of rental assistance for eligible participants. Both the renter and the property owner must agree to participate. This program is in effect through October 1, 2021. Learn more.

Resources to assist you in applying for the Texas Rent Relief Program

Texas Rent Relief Program Landlord Application Tutorial

Texas Rent Relief Program Tenant Application Tutorial

Texas Rent Relief Program Landlord Assistance with a Tenant Application Tutorial

Texas Rent Relief Program Overview: From Applying to Getting Paid

Understanding the Status of Your Application

Texas Rent Relief Program Payment Guide (updated August, 2021)

Texas Rent Relief Program Webinar (video recording): How to Apply (English, Spanish, ASL)

Texas Rent Relief Program Webinar (pdf of presentation): How to Apply

Texas Rent Relief Program Additional Funding Requests (AFR) (video tutorial; posted under “Online Application Instructions”)

Texas Rent Relief “Guide to Returning Payments for Tenants, Landlords, and Utility Providers”

Texas Rent Relief Program Frequently Asked Questions (updated August, 2021)

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Rental Assistance Finder

Renters having trouble paying rent, utilities, or other housing costs – or property owners trying to stay afloat with residents in this situation – help may be available. State and local programs are distributing billions of dollars in rental assistance to help renters stay housed during the pandemic.

Visit the CFPB’s Rental Assistance Finder to find out what this means for you and what you can do. The CFPB’s site also includes resources to help renters and property owners understand other resources to help navigate various financial hardships related to the pandemic. This new tool will be available as of July 28, 2021.

Consumer Financial and Protection Bureau COVID-19 Housing Insecurity Campaign info

The novel coronavirus is a new respiratory virus. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath and may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. A vaccine is not available.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that there is likely to be widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States at some point, though there is currently not widespread circulation in most U.S. communities. The World Health Organization (WHO) is now characterizing COVID-19 as a pandemic. That term does not change the assessment of the severity of the disease, but rather its spread in significant levels in a significant number of countries.

We are not public health experts. We are providing these resources to give you access to trusted sources in one convenient location. We recommend that you look to the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Texas Department of State Health Services and your local public health authorities for information and tips on minimizing your risk, recognizing symptoms and suggested treatments for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these suggestions for basic protective measures:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue away
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

Look to these public health organizations for the latest information on coronavirus, how to minimize risks, how to mitigate the spread of the virus, resources, FAQs and more to assist you.

World Health Organization

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (CDC resource page)

Texas Department of State Health Services

Texas Local Public Health Organizations (local health departments, public health districts and local health units)

What should you do if someone in your home tests positive for coronavirus or has COVID-19?

The Texas Supreme Court allowed nonpayment of rent evictions to be heard beginning May 19, 2020. The Texas Apartment Association continues to encourage members to work as possible with residents to avoid evictions.

More recently, the Court allowed some of its orders requiring petitions for evictions to include a statement that the premises are not subject to the moratorium on evictions imposed by Section 4024 of the CARES Act to expire; the CARES ACT itself expired in July 2020. Remember, the CARES Act only applied to eviction cases involving non-payment of rent.

While the Court has allowed nonpayment of rent evictions to move forward, there still may be local mandates in place affecting the eviction process.

CDC issues new, limited eviction moratorium through October 3, 2021

On August 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new, limited eviction moratorium through October 3, 2021 for renters who submit a required declaration, and live in areas experiencing “substantial or high” levels of COVID-19 transmission. The CDC order prevents evictions for non-payment of rent for certain qualified renters who have submitted a declaration, under penalty of perjury, that states they are unable to pay rent, have made best efforts to obtain rental assistance, meet other eligibility standards and would be subject to homelessness or have limited other housing options if evicted. (It does not prevent the filing of an eviction case, and it does not erase any rent or other lawful fees owed by the renter.)  The order is limited to areas where COVID-19 transmission rates are listed as “substantial or high.” Consult with legal counsel or legal aid or tenant organizations for more information.

Guidelines for reopening pools, spas, hot tubs and water playgrounds

The Texas Department of State Health Services shared guidelines from the CDC and the Council for Model Aquatic Health Code for Operating and Managing Public Pools, Spas, Hot tubs, and Water Playgrounds during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Guidelines may be modified over time as the CDC learns more about the coronavirus and COVID-19. This guidance is for consideration if the authority having jurisdiction has determined public aquatic venues can open.

Unemployment benefits: Register online for unemployment benefits at the Texas Workforce Commission or call 800/939-6631.

Due to the state of emergency declared by Gov. Greg Abbott, the state has suspended the requirement that unemployed individuals must register with the state jobs site and show they are actively applying for new jobs. The state also has waived the “waiting week” provision that previously held back one week of benefits until after job seekers found a new job or hit their benefits maximum.

Grants for restaurant workers who have been impacted by COVID-19: The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation has information on grants available for restaurant industry workers affected by coronavirus. There are some qualifications for the grant based on time worked in the industry. Learn more.

Job resources: There are a number of online job search boards, and some industries need additional workers now to respond to increased demands for their services.

Small business loans:

  • Texas business owners are expected to be eligible for disaster injury loans from the Small Business Administration as a result of the COVID-19/coronavirus declaration of a state emergency. Apply now.
  • Small business programs at the governor’s office may also offer assistance. This page also includes links to federal resources.

Other information for small business owners

Information and links from the National Federation of Independent Business for Texas small business owners.

Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act: Information from the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act

US Chamber Coronavirus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses.

Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward.

The administration soon will release more details including the list of lenders offering loans under the program. In the meantime, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued this guide to help small businesses and self-employed individuals prepare to file for a loan.

Paycheck protection program (for small businesses) FAQs: The Paycheck Protection Program, part of the new CARES stimulus package, is a federal loan program aimed at helping small businesses who have been severely impacted by COVID-19. The main objective of this loan is to help these businesses retain their workforce and assist with other operational expenses. (Information Courtesy of Live Oak Bank)

Coronavirus small business solutions: The Federal Government has dedicated over $350 billion in relief for small businesses, available through several loan programs. We have laid out each option so that you can carefully consider which loan makes the most sense for your business.

Eligibility for one may be impacted if you receive the other, but you can either choose the Paycheck Projection Program loan or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan.  (Information Courtesy of Live Oak Bank)

Department of Labor Information/Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division recently released guidance regarding paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

The initial WHD guidance includes:

A number of local communities have rental assistance programs that may be helpful. Contact your local government for more information about availability and eligibility.
Also see the information on this page for the Texas Rent Relief program.

Some of these programs may have exhausted initial resources, and this is not a comprehensive list.
Check with local programs frequently though, as additional funding sources may become available.


Dallas: (city:; Dallas County:;

El Paso:


San Antonio: (city: (Bexar County:

Many utility and service providers may be suspending disconnections or offering special allowances or programs at this time. We recommend that you check directly with your service provider if you have concerns about your service.

Rental housing residents should get familiar with their surroundings and have a plan for what to do in the event of an emergency.

The Texas Apartment Association has two free short videos to help educate residents about fire safety so they can “Stay Safe.”

Other good sources for fire safety tips include the Texas State Fire Marshal’s “Have an Exit Strategy” website and the National Fire Protection Association.

While the videos reference renters who are also students, the tips apply to any rental housing.

View TAA’s free “Stay Safe” fire safety tips video below:

Video #1: Fire Safety Tips for Students
Video #2: Fire Prevention Tips for Students

Thanks to the Coppell Fire Department for its assistance in filming these videos.

Emergency App

Download the Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information available on mobile devices, including emergency weather alerts and information on what to do in the case of a flood. The app also displays shelter locations.

For your residents, the app includes tips on how to assemble an emergency kit in the event of a power outage or evacuation, an “I’m Safe” button to let loved ones know they’re okay, and a real-time map to help find the location of Red Cross shelters should they need to leave their home. The app has a Spanish language toggle switch and can be downloaded by visiting

Evacuation Shelters

Locate Red Cross shelters.

If someone is coming to a shelter and has time to prepare, they should bring any prescription medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, important documents and other comfort items. If possible, they should also include any special items for children such as diapers, formula and toys, and items needed by family members with unique needs.

For more information on what to do before, during and after a flood, please visit disaster/flood.

Find Red Cross information for your area

Red Cross general tips for preparing for an emergency

Create and practice a disaster plan

Talk to everyone in your household about what to do if a flood occurs. Decide where you would meet and who you would contact in case of flooding. Assemble and maintain an emergency preparedness kit. Be prepared to evacuate your family and pets at a moment’s notice. To locate the nearest Red Cross emergency shelter, check your Emergency App or visit Listen to area radio and television stations for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress.

Have a disaster kit

People should get their disaster kits ready. Include a gallon of water per person—enough for three days, three-day supply of non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a hand crank weather radio, first aid kit, medications, personal hygiene items, extra cash, cell phone and chargers, family and emergency contact information, copies of important papers and a map of the area. More details on what to include are available here.

Heed flood warnings

Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated flood information.  A flood WATCH means flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area. A flood WARNING means flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.

Never drive on flooded roads

Don’t walk, swim or drive through floodwater. Just six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet will float a car. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Stay out of areas subject to flooding. Underpasses, dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc. can become filled with water.

Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger!

Do I have to pay rent if my residence was damaged during a disaster?

At most rental properties, rent is due on the first of the month. Under Texas Apartment Association leases, rent is still due even if the property is damaged or needs repairs, though property owners can make allowances at their discretion. If you have a question about your rent during the aftermath of a natural disaster or catastrophe that has damaged your residence, contact your property owner or manager as soon as possible to discuss your circumstances and get more information.

Can a property owner terminate a lease due to natural disaster or catastrophe?

If a rental property owner believes that catastrophic damage is substantial, or that taking care of needed repairs poses a danger to residents, Paragraph 26.5 of the TAA Lease allows the owner to terminate the lease by giving residents at least 5 days’ written notice.

If your lease is terminated under these circumstances, the property owner is obligated to refund prorated rent and all deposits, less lawful deductions. Property owners may also remove personal property if it causes a health or safety hazard.

Under Section 92.054(b) of the Texas Property Code, if the premises are totally unusable after a catastrophe, a resident can terminate the lease. The owner can also terminate the lease if the premises are totally unusable. Delays an owner experiences in getting insurance proceeds and “reasonable repair time” under the state’s habitability statute are not factors if the premises are totally unusable. See “If repairs are needed” on this page for important information about how to give notice that repair is needed, and other information about what can be considered a “reasonable” time for an owner to make repairs.

If the premises remain totally unusable after a catastrophe, a resident cannot be forced to stay and the resident can terminate the lease—even if the owner is making every effort to promptly repair the premises. Similarly, a resident cannot stop an owner from terminating the lease if the premises are totally unusable.

What if the residence is only “partially” unusable?

Under Section 92.054(c) of the Texas Property Code, if the premises are partially unusable (i.e., only part of the premises are usable or the entire dwelling was unusable for a short period of time like a day or two because of high water, etc.), a resident cannot terminate the lease merely because the damage is causing inconvenience or unsightliness. But a resident is entitled to a proportionate rent deduction unless otherwise agreed in a written lease.

In paragraph 26 of the TAA Lease Contract, the lease language clearly states that rent will not abate under any circumstances, including a circumstance such as a flood. Therefore, owners have no legal duty under the Texas Property Code or the lease to give a rent reduction because of partially unusable premises. However, there is also nothing preventing owners from offering a deduction, if they wish to do so.

What if I don’t return to my damaged residence?

If a resident unlawfully abandons the unit, the resident is responsible under paragraph 14 of the TAA Lease Contract for all rent through the end of the lease term. However, if the owner is able to relet the premises, the owner has to credit the amount of rent received from a future resident against what the former resident owed. Of course, if the resident terminates the lease because the entire dwelling is unusable, the resident is not liable for rent after the termination date.

Can the owner turn off utilities to make repairs or for other reasons?

Under state statute (Texas Property Code, Section 92.008), it is permissible for an owner to interrupt utilities (temporarily cut off water, electricity, etc.) if the need for the interruption is for bona fide repairs, construction or an emergency situation. Additionally, paragraph 26 of the TAA Lease Contract specifically states that the owner has the right to turn off utilities as needed to avoid property damage or to perform work. If utilities are off for a long period, for example when the utility company cannot provide the service, the law and remedies are unclear.

Can an owner remove my belongings after a disaster?

The property owner may exercise rights under paragraph 28 of the TAA Lease Contract, which allows entry into a unit according to the procedures set forth in the paragraph for reasonable business purposes, including removing health or safety hazards. “Health or safety hazards” could include wet items posing potential health and safety risks, or removing perishable foodstuffs if electricity is cut off.

The TAA lease does not give the owner the right to remove a resident’s personal items that do not pose a potential health or safety threat. If no one is in the dwelling, an owner may enter for any of the reasons listed in paragraph 28, but must leave written notice of entry in a conspicuous place in the dwelling immediately after entering (preferably taped to the inside of the main entry door).

Paragraph 8 of the TAA Lease Contract makes it clear that property owners are not liable for damage from a natural disaster to residents’ personal possessions (unless of course an owner’s negligence was also a cause of the damage). Owners should nonetheless exercise reasonable caution while handling the residents’ possessions during the course of any repair work—regardless of whether the items are left in the dwelling or removed from the dwelling because of health considerations. Owners should try to obtain a resident’s permission before removing personal property if possible.

Does the property’s insurance cover my belongings?

The rental property owner’s property casualty insurance does not and cannot insure a resident’s personal belongings. This is because rental housing owners do not have an “insurable interest” in the resident’s property because the property belongs to the resident. Paragraph 8 of the TAA Lease states that the owner’s insurance does not cover loss to a resident’s personal property and indicates whether or not residents are required to buy renter’s insurance.  Also note that flood damage may be a special case that might not be covered under renter’s insurance.

Low-interest federal disaster loans are now available to Texas businesses and residents as a result of President Biden’s major disaster declaration. Learn more.

New federal disaster assistance is available through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). If your business was impacted by the recent severe winter storms and is located in a declared disaster area, you may be eligible for a low-interest federal disaster loan through the SBA.

The SBA has published a fact sheet with more information on loan eligibility, specifics regarding interest rates and other loan details. To apply for a disaster assistance loan through the SBA, visit the SBA’s Disaster Loan Assistance website.

The SBA has also established two new resources to help address disaster loan questions. Starting February 23, 2021, The Virtual Business Recovery Center and The Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center may be reached Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. by calling (800) 659-2955 or emailing

For individuals interested in all forms of disaster assistance, those affected must first contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). To determine if you are eligible to apply, visit the FEMA website to see if you are located in a disaster area. You may also review FEMA’s FAQs on the application process.

To get updates on any new information regarding these resources and other COVID-19 recovery resources through the SBA, please visit the SBA’s website.

Locate Texas counties eligible for assistance:

Texas Severe Winter Storms (DR-4586-TX) |

Apply for FEMA Disaster Assistance:

Home |

Register for free FEMA webinars on recovery and mitigation efforts:

Connect Event Catalog (

Tips for submitting documentation to FEMA

Start your recovery process (English) (Spanish)

The Texas Department of Insurance has helpful information for consumers who have questions about insurance claims for winter storm damage.

Helpful tips about renting in Texas and Texas law

Once you find a place where you want to live, you will be required to fill out a rental application.

You will be charged a non-refundable application fee to cover the cost of verifying your credit, rental history, etc.

Make sure you know the owner’s rental qualifying criteria before you complete an application. The owner is required to make such rental criteria available to you. If you know that you do not meet the criteria, you might rethink submitting an application to rent at that property.

An application deposit may also be required. This deposit is applied toward your security deposit if your application is approved. If not, the deposit is refundable in most cases. However, depending on the application you fill out, the deposit may not be refunded for reasons such as if your application is approved but you decide not to move in, or you fail to tell the truth on your application.

If an owner acts in bad faith and fails to return an application deposit, the owner may be liable under Texas law.

Texas law provides that unless notified of acceptance, a rental applicant will be presumed to be rejected at the end of the seventh day after the owner receives a completed rental application. If the seventh day falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline for notifying an applicant of acceptance is extended until the end of the next business day.

Review a sample TAA Rental Application for Residents and Occupants.

Most disagreements between residents and rental housing owners or managers occur because of misunderstandings about the obligations taken on by each party when an apartment or other rental housing is leased.

The best ways to avoid problems are to:

  1. Read your lease carefully before signing.
  2. Ask questions about anything that is unclear.
  3. Put everything in writing, including agreements, notices and requests.

Keep a copy of the lease signed by you and the owner or manager, as well as any community policies or rules. Under Texas law you have a right to receive a copy of your lease.

Make a checklist of the condition of the property and any furnishings when you move in. (Most properties will provide you with an inventory and condition form). Sign it, have the manager sign it and keep a copy. This will be helpful if there is a dispute over deductions for repairs when you move out.

Keep your rent payment current. Even if you have a dispute, you should not withhold rent since that could make you subject to eviction.

Review a sample TAA Apartment Lease Contract. (English) (Spanish)

You should obtain renter’s insurance to provide protection for your personal belongings in case of burglary, fire, natural disasters or other catastrophes. The property owner’s insurance does not cover your personal belongings against loss. Renter’s insurance can also help if you are liable to the owner and others for certain acts which are normally covered by insurance policies.

For more information, contact your insurance agent or the Texas Department of Insurance.

This Texas Department of Insurance video also talks about why it’s important to have renter’s insurance (and in some cases, flood and liability insurance).

Check your lease for provisions outlining when the owner or manager may enter your unit, regardless of whether you are home.

Some reasons may include:

  • Responding to repair requests
  • Preventative maintenance
  • Showing the dwelling to prospective buyers or renters, and
  • Responding to health or safety concerns

If the lease requires management to make repairs, submit all repair requests in writing and keep a dated copy.

In most cases, the owner must repair security devices or any condition that materially affects the health or safety of an ordinary resident. Give the owner/manager written notice of the needed repairs, and keep a dated copy.

If you don’t receive a response within a reasonable time, re-notify the owner/manager orally and in writing. If you still don’t get a response, you may have legal grounds to exercise statutory rights of lease termination, compulsory repairs, damages, penalties, third-party repair and deduct, and attorney’s fees. (Instead of giving two separate written notices, you can give a single notice if it meets certain standards provided under state law.)

Specific procedures must be followed for statutory remedies, and disregarding those procedures can expose you to a civil damages suit against you by the owner. Repairs of problems resulting in mere discomfort or inconvenience are not covered by the statute.

The city building inspector’s office or county health department may be able to help if the condition violates housing codes regarding safety and sanitation.

All rental dwellings must have smoke alarms installed by the owner. Hearing-impaired residents may also request installation of visual smoke alarms.

You are responsible for replacing batteries during your lease term and checking to make sure that the smoke alarm is working.

It is against the law to disable or disconnect a smoke alarm or to remove working batteries without replacing them. Anyone who disables a smoke alarm may also be responsible for damages if a fire occurs.

Texas law requires that rental dwellings have certain security devices. For example, exterior doors must generally have a doorknob lock or a keyed deadbolt, a keyless lock (with certain exceptions for elderly or disabled residents) and a peephole. Sliding glass doors must have a pin lock and a security bar or door handle latch.

Texas law also requires the owner to rekey all exterior door locks between the time the prior resident moved out and the seventh day after you move in.

If the owner fails to install or rekey security devices, you have the right to do so and deduct the reasonable cost from your next rent payment.

Subject to some limitations, you may also request security devices to be added, changed or rekeyed, but you must pay for them unless the device is required by statute when occupancy begins.

On occasion you may want to find out the name and address of the owner or the management company that is responsible for the property. Upon written request to the managing agent of the owner, you are entitled to be given the name and mailing address of the owner and/or the name and street address of the property management company.

This information is also available to government officials acting in an official capacity.

If you sign a lease but don’t move into the rental unit by the lease (move-in) date, the owner must return your security deposit or rent prepayment if either you or the owner find a replacement resident who is satisfactory to the owner, and if the replacement resident moves into the dwelling on or before the lease commencement date.

If the owner secures a satisfactory replacement resident who occupies the dwelling before the lease commencement date of the original resident, the owner may retain or deduct from the security deposit or rent prepayment: (1) a sum agreed to in the lease as a lease cancellation fee; or (2) the actual expenses incurred by the owner in securing the replacement, including a reasonable amount for the owner’s time in securing the replacement resident.

The law does not limit the amount of the lease cancellation fee or the amount due for the owner’s time.

Make sure you comply with whatever notice requirements are in the lease for moving at the end of your lease. Be sure to provide this notice in writing. Most leases require at least 30 days (and often longer) notice.

If you must move before your lease expires notify the owner/manager immediately. Normally you still will be liable for all of the rent for the remainder of the unexpired lease term even if you’ve quit school, changed jobs, lost a roommate, etc., but sometimes this can be worked out if a replacement is found.

You may also be responsible for a reletting fee if the lease provides for one. This fee is a liquidated amount for damages to compensate the owner for the time and expense incurred in finding a new resident.

Members of the military or new enlistees may be eligible to terminate their lease without penalty if deployed or receiving a permanent change of station.

Victims of domestic violence or sexual assault may also be able to terminate their lease without penalty, upon showing certain proof to the property owner.

A security deposit helps cover any damages or unpaid money you may owe the property owner at the end of your lease.

What can be deducted from your security deposit?

  1. Any charge specified in the lease or any charge resulting from your breaking the lease.
  2. Charges for damages, wear and tear resulting from negligence, carelessness, accident or abuse on your part. “Normal wear and tear” items cannot be deducted.
  3. Unpaid rent and other unpaid charges listed in your lease, such as those for late rent payment, returned checks, missing furniture or fixtures, unreturned keys, etc.
  4. The reasonable cost of cleaning if you fail to properly clean before you leave. Many rental properties have written cleaning instructions for you to follow.

Any deduction must be listed in a written description and itemization mailed to you on or before 30 days after you leave. However, there is no obligation that you be furnished this information if you have not paid all of your rent or if you have not given your forwarding address in writing.

If you have not paid your rent or violate other provisions in your lease, you receive a notice to vacate. If a written lease states so, this notice may be given to the resident just one day before the resident is asked to move out. If a written lease does not state otherwise, the notice must be given at least three days in advance.

If you do not comply with the notice, the owner may file an eviction lawsuit in justice of the peace court. You will then be served lawsuit papers by the constable. Within 14-21 days after the eviction lawsuit is filed, the justice of the peace will schedule a hearing.

Note: If you believe you have a valid defense to the eviction action, you should consider retaining an attorney.

Answers to common questions about TAA

  • No. TAA is not a state agency or regulatory body. We have no regulatory or enforcement authority. We are a trade association representing rental property owners, management companies, builders, developers and companies that supply products and services to property owners, managers and developers.
  • No. TAA does not own or manage rental housing property. TAA members may choose to use TAA’s standard leasing forms and related documents.
  • TAA does not keep rental history records on individuals. Some TAA member companies do provide rental history screening services. The Houston Apartment Association also provides a resident screening service for its members.
  • TAA does not investigate or mediate disputes between rental housing owners and residents. We refer all resident complaints to the local apartment association in the area. Enter your zip code in the field on this page to find the local apartment association in your area.
  • TAA promotes high professional standards for our members and communicates regularly with them about changes in the laws and regulations that govern rental property. We also provide resources and assistance to ensure that our members are operating effectively, legally and ethically.
  • In addition, TAA is a key proponent of legislation that has improved habitability and security standards for residents of rental housing. Legislation supported by TAA has set the standard for security devices (locks and other items) required in residential rental housing. Texas laws are among the nation’s toughest for required security devices and for return of security deposits.
  • TAA has also supported uniform statewide fencing requirements for pool yards at rental properties to improve pool safety and reduce the likelihood of accidental drowning.
  • TAA has also been instrumental in supporting the passage of meaningful tort reform in the state. These reforms have helped keep a lid on operating costs and costs associated with frivolous lawsuits, which can lead to increased rental costs.