Disclaimer: While all efforts have been taken to ensure the currency and reliability of the following document, it is important to note that this is not a legal document nor does it constitute legal advice. In addition, unique facts can render general statements of law in applicable. Should you need legal assistance, it is recommended that you consult an attorney or contact the following:
- The Austin Tenants' Council (512-474-1961)
- Legal Aid of Central Texas (512-476-7244)
- The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division (512-463-2070)
- The Texas Tenants Council (214-828-4244)
The information contained in this document refers specifically to Texas tenant law. While readers from other states may certainly note general commonalities in tenancy laws between Texas and their state, they are advised to check the on-line documents of their particular state tenant council for tenancy information in that state.
The reader is further advised that laws are constantly changing, and although the information in this document is believed to be current,TxLIHIS cannot assume responsibility for any recent changes to Texas tenancy laws not included here.
The Texas Low Income Housing Information Service (TxLIHIS) is particularly grateful for the information provided by Legal Aid of Central Texas, particularly, Attorney Fred Fuchs, and the Austin Tenants' Council. TxLIHIS also wishes to thank Attorney Robert Doggett of Legal Services of North Texas, whose Texas Tenants Rights Attorney Desk Reference Manual is incorporated in this site.
Buyers Remorse Law: Most states have this law which allows a tenant 3 days after signing the lease to change his / her mind, and therefore break the lease, with no penalty.
Remember the old saw that an oral agreement isn't worth the paper it's written on.
Constructive Eviction: May occur when the tenant moves in the following situations:
- When a landlord begins construction on nearby buildings causing too much dust and noise,
- Where severe code violations exist
- When a landlord physically prevents a tenant from using the premises for the purpose for which they were intended
Notice to Vacate: A written notice to the tenant to vacate the rental unit. Such notices require:
- delivery in person to the tenant or any person over age 16 residing in the unit; or
- delivery by certified, registered, or regular mail; or
- delivery by attaching notice to the inside of the front entrance door
and must indicate:
- number of days in which to vacate
- that the tenant's right to occupancy is being terminated
Forcible Detainer Suit: An eviction suit in which a local constable serves forcible detainer papers on a tenant.
Writ of Possession: If the landlord wins his/her case against you and you do not vacate or file an appeal within five days, the court may issue a Writ of Possession. The Writ of Possession can be issued on the sixth day and gives an officer of the law the power to move you and your property out, by force if necessary.
Justices of the Peace in the City of Austin:
Precinct 1: 1811 Springdale Road
Precinct 2: 10409 Burnet Road
Precinct 3: 2919 Manchaca Road
Precinct 4: 2201 Post Road
Precinct 5: 100 Guadalupe (County Courthouse)
Affidavit of Inability to File an Appeal Bond: Affidavit tenant must file to appeal an eviction judgment if the tenant cannot pay or post the appeal bond set by the Justice of the Peace.
Writ of Re-Entry: A judge's order by which the landlord must allow the tenant back into the unit.
Exempt Items: This is a list of property that the landlord cannot take pursuant to a landlord's lien:
- tools of trade or a profession
- family library
- one couch, two living room chairs, and dining room table and chairs
- beds, sheets, pillows, and bedspreads
- kitchen furniture and utensils
- food and foodstuffs
- medicine and medicinal supplies
- one car and one truck
- children's toys
- property that the landlord knows belongs to someone else other than the tenant
or occupant of the residence
- property that the landlord knows is under a financing agreement or a recorded
- farm tools and equipment
Abandonment clause: A statement in a written lease describing the circumstances in which the landlord can declare the rental unit abandoned.
Landlord's lien clause: A statement in a written lease giving the landlord the right to take and hold certain property belonging to the tenant to secure payment of delinquent rent. The statement must be underlined or in bold print. A landlord may exercise a lien only if s/he can do so peacefully.
Notice of sale of property seized by landlord's lien must contain:
- Date, time, and place of the sale.
- An itemized account of the amount owed by the tenant to the landlord.
- The name, address, and phone number of the contact person for the sale.
- Amount owed.
- The right of the tenant to redeem the items any time before the actual sale by paying the landlord all delinquent rents and, if authorized in a written lease, all reasonable packing, storage, and sale costs.
Inconvenient times are before 8:00 AM and after 9:00 PM.
Damages include: moving costs, utility connection fees, storage fees, and lost wages from work, etc.
Doorknob locks: Lock on a doorknob, with the lock operated from the exterior by a key and from the interior without a key.
Keyless deadbolt lock: Deadbolt lock in a door. The lock is operated from the exterior by a key and from the interior by a knob or lever.
Rekey: Change the internal workings of a lock such that it takes a different key to open.
Pin lock: Sliding glass door lock that consists of a pin or nail inserted from the inside of the door and designed to prevent the door from being opened or lifted.
Repair and Deduct: Tenant pays for repairs and deducts their cost from the rental payment. In exercising Repair and Deduct, you must have a local housing (e.g. building inspector) , building, health official, or other official having jurisdiction notify the landlord in writing that the conditions affect the material health and / or safety of the tenant in order to exercise this right.
Liability Coverage: If somebody sued you for damages caused by you or your possessions (other than a vehicle covered by your auto insurance policy), the cost of the suit -- both defending it and settling it if necessary -- would be covered by your renters insurance up to the limit of coverage chosen, minus any deductible to which the renter has agreed.
Last updated October 1, 1996
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