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Christopher B, Esq
Christopher B, Esq, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 2937
Experience:  Litigation Attorney
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My wife and I are currently having some issues with the management

Customer Question

My wife and I are currently having some issues with the management of an apartment complex downtown Houston that we signed 1 year lease for and we would like an early termination with no issues to our credit. The main issue is regarding dogs that are urinating in the elevators, lounging/eating areas, as well as roaming around with no leash. The apartment was truly misrepresented to us in terms of their pets policies. We've contacted the leasing office in the past regarding the matter, but nothing has been done. We've been living here for 2 months and very unhappy about the living standards. In addition, our vehicle was also recently hit in the parking lot with no one reported the issue.
We met with the leasing manager today and requested an early termination to our lease. She wants a 60 days notice, plus some early termination fees to vacate the property. We would like some help and guidance regarding this matter.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Christopher B, Esq replied 1 year ago.
My name is***** and I will be helping you with your question today. This is for informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney client relationship.
A lease obligates both you and your landlord for a set period of time. Under a typical lease, a landlord can’t raise the rent or change other terms, until the lease runs out (unless the lease itself provides for a change, such as a rent increase mid-lease). A landlord can’t force you to move out before the lease ends, unless you fail to pay the rent or violate another significant term. In these cases, landlords in Texas must follow specific procedures to end the tenancy. For example, your landlord must give you three days’ notice (unless the lease specifies a shorter or longer time) to pay the rent or leave (Texas Prop. Code Ann. § 24.005) before filing an eviction lawsuit.
Tenants are legally bound to pay rent for the full lease term, typically one year, whether or not you continue to live in the rental unit—with some exceptions, as follows.
There are some important exceptions to the blanket rule that a tenant who breaks a lease owes the rent for the entire lease term. You may be able to legally move out before the lease term ends in the following situations.
(1) You Are Starting Active Military Duty
If you enter active military service after signing a lease, you have a right to break the lease under federal law. (War and National Defense Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 App. U.S.C.A. §§ 501 and following.) You must be part of the “uniformed services,” which includes the armed forces, commissioned corps of the national Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, and the activated National Guard. You must give your landlord written notice of your intent to terminate your tenancy for military reasons. Once the notice is mailed or delivered, your tenancy will terminate 30 days after the date that rent is next due, even if that date is several months before your lease expires. State law may provide additional rules for early termination due to active military duty.
(2) You Are a Victim (or the Parent of a Victim) of Sexual Assault or Stalking
State law (Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 92.0161) provides early termination rights for tenants who are victims of sexual assault or stalking, provided that specified conditions are met (such as the tenant securing a protective order).
(3) The Rental Unit Is Unsafe or Violates Texas Health or Safety Codes
If your landlord does not provide habitable housing under local and state housing codes, a court would probably conclude that you have been “constructively evicted;” this means that the landlord, by supplying unlivable housing, has for all practical purposes “evicted” you, so you have no further responsibility for the rent. Texas law (Tex. Prop Code Ann. §§ 92.056, 92.0561) sets specific requirements for the procedures you must follow before moving out because of a major repair problem. The problem must be truly serious, such as the lack of heat or other essential service.
(4) Your Landlord Harasses You or Violates Your Privacy Rights
Texas does not have a state law that specifies the amount of notice your landlord must give you to enter rental property. If your landlord repeatedly violates your rights to privacy, or does things like removing windows or doors, turning off your utilities, or changing the locks, you would be considered “constructively evicted,” as described above; this would usually justify you breaking the lease without further rent obligation.
Number 3 may fit what you are looking for, but Texas laws require a truly serious problem. The argument might be made that you are living in unsanitary conditions but these conditions are also outside your living area and are in common areas. This would be a very tough sell to a Judge. Depending on the amount of the termination fee, the deal you seem to have brokered is very fair. The landlord would have a right to require you to pay rent for the entire term of the lease. See below for your remedies under Texas Statute if the landlord fails to repair the common areas that you are complaining of.
Sec. 92.052. LANDLORD'S DUTY TO REPAIR OR REMEDY. (a) A landlord shall make a diligent effort to repair or remedy a condition if:
(1) the tenant specifies the condition in a notice to the person to whom or to the place where rent is normally paid;
(2) the tenant is not delinquent in the payment of rent at the time notice is given; and
(3) the condition:
(A) materially affects the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant; or
(B) arises from the landlord's failure to provide and maintain in good operating condition a device to supply hot water of a minimum temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
(b) Unless the condition was caused by normal wear and tear, the landlord does not have a duty during the lease term or a renewal or extension to repair or remedy a condition caused by:
(1) the tenant;
(2) a lawful occupant in the tenant's dwelling;
(3) a member of the tenant's family; or
(4) a guest or invitee of the tenant.
(c) This subchapter does not require the landlord:
(1) to furnish utilities from a utility company if as a practical matter the utility lines of the company are not reasonably available; or
(2) to furnish security guards.
(d) The tenant's notice under Subsection (a) must be in writing only if the tenant's lease is in writing and requires written notice.
ANDLORD LIABILITY AND TENANT REMEDIES; NOTICE AND TIME FOR REPAIR. (a) A landlord's liability under this section is subject to Section 92.052(b) regarding conditions that are caused by a tenant and Section 92.054 regarding conditions that are insured casualties.
(b) A landlord is liable to a tenant as provided by this subchapter if:
(1) the tenant has given the landlord notice to repair or remedy a condition by giving that notice to the person to whom or to the place where the tenant's rent is normally paid;
(2) the condition materially affects the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant;
(3) the tenant has given the landlord a subsequent written notice to repair or remedy the condition after a reasonable time to repair or remedy the condition following the notice given under Subdivision (1) or the tenant has given the notice under Subdivision (1) by sending that notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by registered mail;
(4) the landlord has had a reasonable time to repair or remedy the condition after the landlord received the tenant's notice under Subdivision (1) and, if applicable, the tenant's subsequent notice under Subdivision (3);
(5) the landlord has not made a diligent effort to repair or remedy the condition after the landlord received the tenant's notice under Subdivision (1) and, if applicable, the tenant's notice under Subdivision (3); and
(6) the tenant was not delinquent in the payment of rent at the time any notice required by this subsection was given.
(c) For purposes of Subsection (b)(4) or (5), a landlord is considered to have received the tenant's notice when the landlord or the landlord's agent or employee has actually received the notice or when the United States Postal Service has attempted to deliver the notice to the landlord.
d) For purposes of Subsection (b)(3) or (4), in determining whether a period of time is a reasonable time to repair or remedy a condition, there is a rebuttable presumption that seven days is a reasonable time. 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.
(e) Except as provided in Subsection (f), a tenant to whom a landlord is liable under Subsection (b) of this section may:
(1) terminate the lease;
(2) have the condition repaired or remedied according to Section 92.0561;
(3) deduct from the tenant's rent, without necessity of judicial action, the cost of the repair or remedy according to Section 92.0561; and
(4) obtain judicial remedies according to Section 92.0563.
(f) A tenant who elects to terminate the lease under Subsection (e) is:
(1) entitled to a pro rata refund of rent from the date of termination or the date the tenant moves out, whichever is later;
(2) entitled to deduct the tenant's security deposit from the tenant's rent without necessity of lawsuit or obtain a refund of the tenant's security deposit according to law; and
(3) not entitled to the other repair and deduct remedies under Section 92.0561 or the judicial remedies under Subdivisions (1) and (2) of Subsection (a) of Section 92.0563.
(g) A lease must contain language in underlined or bold print that informs the tenant of the remedies available under this section and Section 92.0561.
Please let me know if you have any further questions and please positively rate my answer as it is the only way I will be compensated.
Expert:  Christopher B, Esq replied 1 year ago.
I see you have reviewed my answer, please let me know if I can do anything further. Please positively rate my answer as it is the only way I will be compensated.
Expert:  Christopher B, Esq replied 1 year ago.
Is there anyway to receive a positive rating?