The complexities of landlord-tenant laws in Texas can be daunting to understand, especially when it comes to dealing with a tenant who won’t pay rent. As a landlord, understanding your rights and obligations is crucial to managing your property effectively. So let’s see how the essential aspects of Texas landlord-tenant laws work, focusing on solutions for delinquent rent payments.

Whether you’re a seasoned property owner or new to the real estate business, let’s look at how to address delinquent rent payments and navigate the eviction process. We’ll also help you understand both your rights and those of your tenants.

Join us as we look at the legal framework governing rental properties in Texas, offering practical advice and legal insights to help you manage delinquent rent with confidence.

Understanding Texas Landlord-Tenant Laws

In Texas, landlords and tenants navigate their relationships under a specific set of rules and regulations. These laws ensure fairness and clarity in rental agreements, especially when it comes to handling delinquent rent payments.

The basics of Texas landlord-tenant laws include security deposits, monthly rent payments, and the eviction process after a tenant refuses to pay rent.

Late Fees and Rent Payment Policies

When there is unpaid and delinquent rent, Texas law allows landlords to impose late fees. This is contingent on the fees being reasonable and outlined in the lease agreement.

Your lease should clearly state any late fees you intend to charge, as well as any grace period you offer tenants for late rent payments. This grace period allows tenants extra time to pay their rent without facing a late fee.

You may enforce a late fee if:

  • It is explicitly mentioned in the lease agreement. Without a written lease, charging a late fee is not permissible.
  • At least two full days have passed since the rent due date. For instance, if rent is due on the 1st, you cannot apply a late fee until the 4th day of the month.

Ensure these conditions are met to maintain transparency and fairness in your rental agreements.

The state specifies a grace period of three days for rent payment before late fees can be applied or eviction processes can begin. (Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 92.019)

This short window emphasizes the importance of clear communication and understanding between landlords and tenants regarding rent deadlines and penalties for late payments.

Security Deposits: No Limits but Strict Rules

Texas stands out by not setting a cap on the amount a landlord can charge for a security deposit. This flexibility allows landlords to determine the deposit amount that best suits the value and risks associated with their property.

However, the law demands a high level of responsibility in handling these funds.

Within 30 days of a tenant moving out, landlords must return the security deposit minus any deductions for damages or unpaid rent.

These deductions must be itemized and explained in writing to the tenant. Keeping accurate records of all transactions related to the security deposit is not just good practice; it’s a legal requirement in Texas. (Tex. Prop. Code § 92.104, § 92.106)

The Eviction Process: A Last Resort

Eviction is a legal mechanism available to landlords when tenants fail to pay rent.

In Texas, the process of eviction due to delinquent rent starts with an unconditional quit notice, giving tenants three days to pay up or move out. (Tex. Prop. Code § 24.001-24.011)

This notice must be delivered in accordance with Texas law, ensuring tenants are fully aware of their delinquent rent and their options.

Eviction should always be the last resort, used only when all other attempts to resolve delinquent rent have failed. Understanding the legal requirements and steps involved in eviction for delinquent rent is crucial for landlords.

Consulting with an experienced real estate eviction attorney can make all the difference in these situations.

The Steps of Eviction

Step 1: Notice to Vacate First, you must give your tenant a written notice to vacate. This notice informs the tenant that they must leave the property by a certain date. In Texas, if the eviction is because they did not pay rent, you typically need to give at least three days’ notice unless your lease specifies a different period.

Step 2: Filing the Eviction Suit If the tenant does not vacate by the deadline, you can file an eviction suit, also known as a forcible entry and detainer suit, at your local Court. You’ll need to provide details about your case and pay a filing fee.

Step 3: Court Hearing After filing, the court will set a hearing date. Both you and the tenant will have the opportunity to present your case. It’s important to bring all relevant documents, such as the lease agreement, any notices you’ve given to the tenant, and records of rent payments or lack thereof.

If you worry about not having things together for the hearing, bringing on a real estate and eviction lawyer can help you make your case before the judge. They can also ensure you have everything you need to make your case with the best outcome.

Step 4: Judgment If the judge rules in your favor, they will issue a judgment for possession. This means the delinquent tenants must leave the property. If the delinquent tenants still do not leave, you can proceed to the next step.

Step 5: Writ of Possession You can request a writ of possession from the court. This is an order that authorizes law enforcement to remove the delinquent tenants from the property. There’s usually a short waiting period after the judgment before you can request this writ.

Step 6: Execution of the Writ Once the writ of possession is issued, a constable or sheriff will post a notice at the property informing the tenant that they will be forcibly removed within a few days if they do not leave.

Remember, this process must be followed precisely to ensure the eviction is legal and enforceable.

Skipping steps or failing to adhere to legal requirements can invalidate the eviction.

Summing Up

Texas landlord-tenant laws provide a framework for fair and equitable relationships between landlords and tenants. By understanding and adhering to these laws, landlords can navigate the challenges of delinquent rent effectively.

Remember, clear communication, detailed record-keeping, and a thorough understanding of legal obligations are key to managing rental properties successfully in Texas. Always consult the specific statutes and consider legal advice for complex situations.

We Can Help

At Jarrett Law, we understand the complexities and challenges that come with managing rental properties in Texas. Our team of experienced attorneys specializes in landlord-tenant law, offering comprehensive legal services to ensure your rights are protected and your rental business thrives.

From drafting clear and enforceable lease agreements to navigating the eviction process, we provide the guidance and support you need every step of the way.

Our approach is proactive and personalized. We work closely with you to understand your specific needs and goals. We then offer tailored solutions that address your concerns.

Whether you’re dealing with delinquent rent, tenant disputes, or property damage issues, we have the expertise to resolve your legal matters efficiently and effectively.

Don’t let legal challenges disrupt your rental business. Contact Jarrett Law today for a consultation, and let us help you secure the success of your property investments.