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Ray, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 41003
Experience:  Texas Attorney for 30 years dealing in real estate
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A tenant in Texas paid first months rent and partial deposit

Customer Question

A tenant in Texas paid first months rent and partial deposit of $200 for a total of $1200 on May 19. We were completely renovating the entire 3 bedroom house and the tenant was to move in on June 1. We deposited the check and ceased advertising and talking to other potential tenants on May 19.My wife, who was renovating the house, decided to replace the outdoor patio slabs and, knowing this would not prevent the expected June 1 move in, sent a text on May 31 saying that "there are still a few things I want to do to the house before I turn it over to you", and, "we have the lease ready for you to sign, and the keys to give to you tomorrow (June 1), where can we meet?""We did not hear back from the tenant until June 6, who sent a text saying that he had accepted a job offer in a different state, please return the $1200". the tenantI sent the $200 deposit back and a letter saying that his $1000 for June rent was not being returned, because we accepted it for June rent.We just received a letter from his attorney saying we owed $1000 plus attorney fees because we prevented the tenant from moving in on June 1 and he was forced to move to another job offer". and, that if we don't pay the $1350 by October 7, they will file suit for this amount and additional damages".For the purpose of this question, we are certain that the tenant was not prevented from moving in by June 1, and that he understood that.My question is, does Texas law allow me to keep the June rent paid on May 19, despite our stated intention of doing outdoor improvements on the house by no later than June 3, and even though the tenant never moved in but changed his mind on June 6?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Ray replied 9 months ago.

Hi and welcome to JA. Ray here to help you today.Please bear with me a few moments while I review your question, conduct and prepare your response.

Expert:  Ray replied 9 months ago.

You can argue there was rent due as you state for May.The problem here is that there wasn't a signed lease.Until you have that it is very hard to prevail in court if challenged.You have to decide whether you want to take your chances or not.You may want to try and negotiate here , how about splitting the $1k and no lawyer fees. You have not been held liable not at all sure you owe lawyer fees.But negotiating is a good strategy, it covers part of your loss and it resolve it.Honestly if they sue you here in small claims the jp would have to decide whether you have a month to month without a lease here since there was communication and whether the property was ready on the 1st as advertised.

Thats as specific as I can be here.Sometimes it comes down to the mood of the jp who usually isn't a lawyer here in Texas.

It comes down to the facts here in total and the jp applying them.Try for the split of the $1k--$500 no lawyer fees.

I appreciate the chance to help you today.

Expert:  Ray replied 9 months ago.

Please let me know if you have more follow up.If you can rate 5 stars it is always much appreciated.Thanks again.

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