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What are my rights as a landlord when a person wants to

terminate a lease due to...
What are my rights as a landlord when a person wants to terminate a lease due to domestic violence in the home? I have no received a restraining order and they cannot give me a move out date
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Answered in 5 minutes by:
11/1/2016
Loren
Loren, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 38,285
Experience: 30 years experience representing clients.
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Good afternoon. I am Loren, a licensed attorney, and I look forward to assisting you.

Section 92.016 of the Texas Property Code gives victims of family violence the right to “vacate and avoid liability.” This means a victim of family violence may break her residential lease without penalty and in some cases without notice. Landlords who do not allow the tenant to break the lease or who attempt to place barriers, conditions, or restrictions on the victim are breaking the law and are subject to a civil penalty of one month’s rent plus $500, damages, and they must pay the victim’s attorneys’ fees.

No particular form or language is required. Notice can be handwritten, and as simple as a sentence or two explaining the situation. For example, “I am a victim of family violence and am breaking my lease without penalty as Texas law allows me to do. A copy of my protective order is attached. I expect to move on (date).” If the person who committed the family violence lives with the victim, then the victim does not have to give written notice; the victim just needs to give a copy of the protective order to the landlord.

So, tell the person that as soon as they provide notice with a move out date and copy of the ex parte order or other documentation, you will be happy to release them from the lease.

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Customer reply replied 1 year ago
Ok assuming they give me the protective order in the middle of the month do I have to prorate rent and return the money for the days they were not living there? Also what happens to the security deposit?

Yes, you have to prorate the rent and return the security deposit.

There is special language that must be in the lease before the landlord can collect old unpaid rent from the victim. The lease must say, “Tenants may have special statutory rights to terminate the lease early in certain situations involving family violence or a military deployment or transfer.” If the lease does not have this language in it, then the victim is not liable for unpaid rent that was due at the time the victim vacates the premises

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I realize this is probably not the answer you were hoping to receive. Also, please remember that this is not a moral judgement on my part. As a professional, however, I am sometimes placed in the position of having to deliver news which is not favorable to a customer's legal position, but accurately reflects their position under the law. I hate it, but it happens and I only ask that you not penalize me with a bad or poor rating for having to deliver less than favorable news.

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Customer reply replied 1 year ago
No I understand and I assumed that would be the case. It's just that the victim is out of town and the mother who is the responsible party to pay is trying to get the abbuser out of the home before she serves him with arrest charges. But that puts me in a bad position because I don't know when she will actually get the protective order and wants me to return the security deposit upon vacate of the home. But from what I understand she is still liable until I receive the protective order correct?
Customer reply replied 1 year ago
My lease does have that special language

Yes, you need to receive some sort of verification.

If the lease does not have the language then, once you get notice, you can not collect any further rent or make a claim for past due rent. In other words, you can not put any barriers in the way of leaving.

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Customer reply replied 1 year ago
My lease DOES have that clause. What happens in a case where she gives me the protective order and the abbuser is still in the home? Does the home have to be vacated and give me the protective order together to legally break the lease?

Only the victim is released. Anyone else who signed is still liable for the terms of the lease.

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Customer reply replied 1 year ago
Oh I see. So then the mother who is responsible to pay (I have a lease guaranty with her) is still liable to pay until the full lease expires?

If the mother is only the daughter's guarantor then her liability ends with the daughter's.

If there were a co-signor who was living there then THEIR liability would continue.

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Customer reply replied 1 year ago
Well she made the guarantee for both her daughter and husband

Then she can be held liable along with the husband.

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Customer reply replied 1 year ago
Well I don't wanna do all that. However I will hold her responsible until I receive the protective order. Thank you very much :)

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Loren

Loren
Loren, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 38,285
Experience: 30 years experience representing clients.
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