I have been reviewing the landlord/tenant law in Texas. In Texas, as a tenant, You have the following rights and remedies:
Health and Safety
You have a right to demand that the landlord repair any condition that materially affects your health and safety. Under Texas law, by renting you the property, the landlord guarantees that the unit will be a fit place to live.
SB 1448 (81st Regular Session), effective January 1, 2010, now grants justices of the peace authority to order landlords to repair or remedy conditions affecting a tenant's health and safety, as long as the cost of the repair does not exceed $10,000. Tenants can go to justice court without an attorney to obtain a repair order.
Under certain conditions, you and the landlord may have a written agreement that you will make needed repairs. The landlord does not have a duty to pay for or make repairs if you or your guests cause an unsafe or unhealthy condition through negligence, carelessness, abuse or accident-unless the condition resulted from "normal wear and tear."
Also, the landlord must provide smoke detectors. You may not waive that provision, and you may not disconnect or disable the smoke detector.
Although there are some specific exceptions, under Texas law, a dwelling must be equipped with security devices such as window latches, keyed dead bolts on exterior doors, sliding door pin locks and sliding door handle latches or sliding door security bars, and door viewers.
These devices must be installed at the landlord's expense. If such devices are missing or are defective, you have the right to request their installation or repair.
If You Have Problems
If the landlord won't make repairs needed to protect your health, safety, or security, and you follow the procedures required by law, you may be entitled to:
- End the lease;
- Have the problem repaired and deduct the cost of the repair from the rent; or
- File suit to force the landlord to make the repairs.
You MUST Follow These Steps:
- Send the landlord a dated letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by registered mail, outlining the needed repairs. You may also deliver the letter in person. Keep a copy of the letter. Be sure that your rent is current when the notice is received.
- Your landlord should make a diligent effort to repair the problem within a reasonable time after receipt of the notice. The law presumes seven days to be a reasonable time, but the landlord can rebut this presumption. If the landlord has not made a diligent effort to complete the repair within seven days and you did not have the first notice letter delivered to your landlord via certified mail, return receipt requested, or via registered mail, you will need to send a second notice letter regarding the needed repairs.
- If the landlord still has not made diligent efforts to repair the problem within a reasonable time after receipt of the notice letter sent by certified mail, return receipt requested or by registered mail, you may be entitled to terminate the lease, repair the problem and deduct the cost from your rent, or get a court to order that the repairs be made. You should consult with an attorney before taking any of these actions.
Under Texas law, it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against you for complaining in good faith about necessary repairs for a period of six months from the date you made such a complaint. Of course, you can always be evicted if you fail to pay your rent on time, threaten the safety of the landlord or intentionally damage the property.
You do not have a right to withhold rent because the landlord fails to make repairs when the condition needing repair does not materially affect your health and safety. If you try this method, the landlord may file suit against you.
Good luck to you.
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