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Articles Posted in Texas Landlord-Tenant Law

Texas Property Code §92.107 requires a tenant provide a forwarding address “for the purpose of refunding the security deposit.”

So what happens if a tenant fails to provide a forwarding address to the landlord? First, “the landlord is not obligated to return the tenant’s security deposit or provide the description of damages and charges until the tenant gives the landlord a written statement of the tenants forwarding address…”

Therefore, a tenant who fails to provide their forwarding address hurts themselves. Secondly, the tenants right to the security deposit is not forfeited, however, the landlord has no obligation to return the security deposit or provide the description of damages until he has the written “statement of the tenant’s forwarding address.”

No!

Texas Property Code §92.108 states “a tenant may not withhold payment of any portion of the last month’s rent on grounds that the security deposit is security for unpaid rent.”

The penalties are clear — the tenant can be liable up to 3 times the rent wrongfully withheld and liable for payment of the landlord’s attorney fees for any suit to recover the rent.

Recently, I was involved in a classic retaliation case. An apartment tenant requested information from an apartment in accordance with the state statute to correct a deficiency with the apartment.

The apartment management was unresponsive to the tenant’s request. The tenant then requested the apartment owner’s address, as provided by a city ordinance which stated a tenant was allowed to send a letter to the owner stating their claim. The tenant was not behind in rent. This is an important requirement for a tenant to prove landlord retaliation in Texas.

Upon the tenant requesting the apartment owner’ s address, the apartment manager immediately called the corporate management for guidance. The corporate manager instructed the apartment manager to terminate the tenant’s lease and give the tenant a 30 day notice immediately. The apartment manager complied and issued the 30 day notice to the tenant within an hour of the tenant’s request for the owner’ s address.

A landlord may not retaliate or attempt to punish a tenant who attempts to exercise “a right or remedy granted to the tenant by ‘by lease, municipal ordinance, or federal or state statute.” Texas Property Code §92.331(a)(1).

Additionally a landlord may not retaliate if he can’t request a repair to the property or attempts to “exercise a remedy” under the Texas Property Code, Residential Tenancies, Chapter 92. Furthermore a landlord may not retaliate if the tenant request a government entity, public utility, “or a civic or nonprofit agency” to enforce a building or housing code.

The Texas Property Code §92.331(b) states a landlord within “6 months after the date of the tenant’s actions” cannot:

A Tenant’s Remedies

Section 92.056 generally makes the landlord liable to the tenant if the tenant meets the requirements of Section 92.052. The landlord, however, has a reasonable period of time to repair the condition. Section 92.56(d) states a reasonable period of time is seven days. “To rebut that presumption, the date on which the landlord received the tenant’s notice, the severity and nature of the condition, and the reasonable availability of materials and labor and of utilities from a utility company must be considered.”

Under Section 92.053, the Burden of Proof (BOP) falls upon the tenant to enforce any inaction by a landlord failing to repair or remedy a Section 92.052 condition. Once the tenant proves their claim the BOP shifts to the landlord.

Smoke Detectors

You need a working smoke detector for the safety of you and your family.

Section 92.254 of the Texas Property Code requires a working smoke detector in each rental unit. The smoke detector must be able to detect both visible and invisible products of combustion. The smoke detector, which is installed must be “tested and listed for use as a smoke detector by Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., Factory Mutual Research Corp, or the United States Testing Company.”

Repair of Property

Texas Property Code § 92.052 provides a landlord “shall make a diligent effort to repair or remedy a condition if” the tenant gives notice AND is not delinquent in rent. Additionally, the repair defect “materially affects the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant.” Finally, the landlord must provide hot water “a minimum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.”

A landlord does not have a duty to repair any damage caused by a tenant, a lawful occupant, a tenant’s family member, guest, or invitee. A tenant who damages the property cannot demand the landlord repair the damage.

Locks

Section 92.153 of the Texas Property Code requires, with a few exceptions, a landlord to equip a residence, with a window latch on each exterior window, a doorknob lock or keyed dead bolt on each exterior door, sliding door pins for each exterior sliding door, a sliding door handle latch or security bar, and a this keyless bolting device and a door viewer an each exterior door.

Rekeying.

The Texas Property Code governs security deposits. The landlord and tenant both have obligations and requirements under Chapter 92, Residential Tendencies, et seq., Subchapter C, Security Deposits. This chapter provides the specific requirements the landlord and the tenant must comply concerning the security deposit. First, we will discuss the landlord requirements.

Landlord

The security deposit is meant, “primarily to secure performance under a lease of a dwelling that has been entered into by a landlord and a tenant.” The advance of money by the tenant to the landlord gives the landlord a means of protecting his investment.

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