points to remember understanding renter rights renter rights & and responsibilities responsibilities by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbottthe annual fall migration of students enter the unit, the landlord has no right property. The landlord may not charge Texas Department of Housing andto college towns and cities across Texas to do so, except perhaps in case of the renter for normal wear and tear on Community Affairscan be intimidating for students who are emergency or to conduct repairs the the premises and may only charge for (800) 525-0657renting their own place to live for the tenant has requested. extraordinary damage. www.tdhca.state.tx.usvery first time. Knowledge about the legal • Locks and security – Although there are • Notifying the landlord of necessary The following organizations provideprotections afforded to renters can help some specific exceptions, under Texas repairs in writing. If the landlord fails additional information on tenants’ rights,protect their pocketbooks and take some law, a residence must be equipped with to make repairs that materially affect including brochures:stress out of the process. security devices such as window latches, tenants’ health, safety or security, and Most landlords require a tenant’s keyed dead bolts on exterior doors, tenants follow the procedures required Austin Tenants’ Councilsignature on a lease. Renters should read sliding door pin locks and sliding door by law, tenants may be entitled to end 1619 E. Cesar Chavez St.their leases carefully before they sign them. handle latches or sliding door security their lease, have the problem repaired Austin, Texas 78702 (512) 474-1961Real-estate agents who know the rental bars. These devices must be installed at on their own and deduct the cost of www.housing-rights.orgmarket may be able to help and typically do the landlord’s expense. If these devices the repair from their rent. Tenantsnot charge renters for their services because are missing or are defective, a tenant also could take legal action against a State Bar of Texaslandlords pay the agents’ fees. has the right to request their installation landlord who refuses to make required P.O. Box 12487 Renters who want to change a part of or repair. repairs. If possible, renters should Austin, Texas 78711their lease should discuss the changes with • Smoke detectors – The landlord must consult with an attorney or legal aid (800) 204-2222the landlord. If the landlord agrees, the two provide smoke detectors. A tenant may clinic before deciding how to proceed. www.texasbar.comshould decide how they want to phrase the not waive that provision and may not • Giving notice of a tenant’s intent Texas Apartment Associationchange and write it into the agreement. Both disconnect or disable the smoke detector. to move out. Many leases require 1011 San Jacinto Blvd., Suite 600parties should then initial the agreed-upon • Freedom from discrimination – 30 days’ notice as a condition of Austin, Texas 78701change. For example, while many standard Landlords are clearly prohibited from returning a renter’s deposit – though (512) 479-6252leases prohibit pets, some landlords may be discriminating against renters because some agreements require more than www.taa.orgwilling to accept a pet if the tenant pays an of their race, national origin, religion, 30 days’ notice.extra security deposit. gender, familial status or disability. • Giving a landlord notice of a tenant’s Office of Attorney General Once renters have signed their leases, • Freedom from retaliation – Under forwarding address. Landlords are (800) 252-8011moved in and unpacked, they can expect to Texas law, it is illegal for a landlord required to return tenants’ security www.texasattorneygeneral.govenjoy certain rights which include: to retaliate within six months against deposits or explanations of deductions For more information about this or other • Peace and quiet – A landlord cannot evict a tenant who complained in good faith within 30 days of their departure. consumer topics, contact the Attorney renters without cause nor can they disturb about necessary repairs. Property codes can be confusing. General’s Office at (800) 252-8011 or visit tenants’ right to enjoy their residence. Tenants also have a number of respon- Texans who have questions about their online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov. • Privacy – Tenants should study their sibilities of their own. These obligations specific situations can contact their local leases carefully to determine the may include: tenants’ councils or other resources listed circumstances under which a landlord • Paying rent in full and on time in in the “Points to Remember” section of may enter their homes. Unless a lease accordance with the lease agreement. this column. agreement says that the landlord can • Appropriate upkeep of the rental – September 2012
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