Texas has laws in place to help you protect your rental properties and exercise your rights as a landlord. Like your tenants, you have protection under the law.
To provide a positive rental experience, you should be aware of landlord-tenant laws and fulfill your obligations as a landlord. It’s also very important that you know the rights you have as a landlord. These rights include:
Right to Collect Rent from Tenants
As part of the rental agreement, all landlords have the right to collect rental payments from their tenants.
In addition to the rental amount, late fees may also be collectable. Late fees are penalties collected when tenant does not pay the rent within the negotiated timeframe. Per Texas law, you can collect late fees if any portion of the rent remains unpaid two full days after it was due. However, landlords can only collect a late fee stipulated in the written lease.
According to Senate Bill 1414, landlords overdue fees must be reasonable.
- Pre-arranged late fees should not exceed 12% of the rent’s total cost for a property unit with four units or less.
- Pre-arranged late fees should not exceed 10% of the rent’s total cost for a unit in a property with more than four units.
- Pre-arranged late fees should not exceed the landlord’s uncertain damages related to the late payment of rent, including direct or indirect expenses, direct or indirect costs, or overhead associated with the collection of late payment.
There are no specific payment methods required for both tenants and landlords to use. However, landlords can declare their preferred means of payment in the leasing agreement.
Landlords should notify the tenants in advance if they want to transition to a new payment method. Setting a requirement to pay online is considered an amendment to the lease. This arrangement can either be performed at the start of the new lease period or upon the written agreement of both parties.
When the lease agreement does not express a particular payment method, landlords cannot refuse any payment type. Tenants that pay their rent in cash must receive a receipt.
Right to Raise the Rental Costs
The law does not prohibit landlords from raising the rental costs in the event of lease renewal. Rent increases cannot be implemented until the lease term ends.
You can anticipate local rent control ordinances in Texas after the declaration of a state of disaster. Housing emergency regulations are usually approved by the governor before the adjustments in rent prices apply.
It is also important to note that landlords cannot increase the rent as a form of retaliation for their tenants exercising their rights. These right include tenants requesting repairs, making complaints about the unit, or joining a tenant organization.
Right to Evict Tenants
Landlords can practice their right to evict tenants, especially those who refuse to pay rent. Before you evict a tenant, you should be aware of the appropriate eviction proceedings in Texas. This process allows you to collect the remainder of the unpaid rent or any other costs associated with the eviction.
The following involves the legal terms typically utilized during eviction proceedings. As a landlord, it is essential to know these terms to determine their role in the process.
Forcible Detainer. This process refers to tenants who stay within the rental property after the landlord revoked their right to stay. Whether their lease expired or was forfeited, they cannot dwell inside the rental property.
Hold-over Tenant. Hold-over tenant is the term used to describe a tenant who remains at the rental unit without notifying the landlord.
Notice to Quit or Vacate. Tenants should receive a notice to vacate from their landlord. According to the law, landlords must notify their tenants before starting the eviction process. Tenants need warning of the issues that arise and given some time to make changes.
Tenancy-at-Will. This explanation refers to the leasing agreement between a tenant and a landlord bound without adequate documents. Put simply, tenancy-at-will is a verbal agreement. More often than not, this arrangement occurs with family members, relatives, close friends to the landlord. Even if the lease is merely a verbal agreement, the law requires a formal eviction process before the tenant can leave.
Writ of Possession. Writ of possession is typically the final stage of the eviction proceedings. It is when the court orders the authorities to remove the tenant in the property, return unsettled rental costs, or retrieve the landlord’s property from the tenant.
Here are the steps you need to take before evicting a tenant from your rental property:
- Inform the tenant by sending them the Notice to Vacate. Landlords can give up to 3 days to let the tenant move out before filing the eviction suit.
- After filing the eviction suit, expect the eviction hearing to commence after at least ten days.
- Once the judgment is issued, there will be no action taken for the next five days. This time frame allows either party to appeal. When the tenant decides to appeal, another hearing begins after a week.
Upon the final judgment, landlords can ask for the tenant’s writ of possession. Tenants receive a full-day notice before authorities remove their stuff from the rental property.