Frequently Asked Questions

Who covers the cost of damages to my property if I'm robbed, or there is a fire or other accident?
If you have renters insurance, your insurance should cover your losses, minus any deductible. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll be responsible for replacing or repairing your property. The property owner’s insurance does not cover property belonging to residents; it only covers the property owner’s belongings, buildings, etc. If the property owner or his employees negligently caused the accident, you may have grounds to recover damages from the owner, but you’ll need to have legal advice.
What happens if I don't pay the rent?

A number of things can happen if you don’t pay your rent.

·You may incur late charges, which must be paid in addition to the rent.

·If your lease includes the appropriate provision, the owner can enter your apartment and remove items like TVs, stereos, sports equipment, etc. and keep it until you pay your rent. This provision must be underlined or in bold print in your lease. The owner cannot remove items that are listed as “exempt” in Section 54.041 of the Texas Property Code. Seized items may be sold if the owner gives you the proper notice under the statute.

·If the property owner gives you the proper notice under Section 92.0081 of the Texas Property Code, you may be locked out of your apartment or rental home; you will then have to contact the property owner or manager to get back into your apartment.

·If electricity is connected in the property’s name and paid for by the property, the owner may cut off service to your apartment after giving you the proper notice.

·The owner may also file to evict you from the property, and report your non-payment to consumer reporting agencies, rental history tracking companies, properties you may try to rent from in the future, etc.

·If your lease includes a water allocation or submetering provision and you pay your water bill to the property, the property owner may charge a fee of up to 5 percent of the amount due when your payment is late.

Can I be locked out of my apartment for non-payment of rent?
Yes. Section 92.0081 of the Texas Property Code allows owners to change the door locks on an apartment unit if the rent is delinquent. However, the owner must first notify you at least three days before the locks are to be changed. After the lockout, the owner must leave a notice telling you where the key can be obtained 24 hours a day. You must contact the owner or the owner’s agent to gain access to your apartment or rental home, but the owner cannot refuse to allow you back in, even if you have not yet paid your rent. If you haven’t paid your rent, though, you’ll still be subject to any of the owner’s remedies against you for non-payment, including another lockout.
Can the rent be increased during my lease?
No, unless your lease has a provision that allows increases during the term. Under the TAA Lease Contract, the rent cannot be increased during the initial lease term unless a “special provision” is inserted or an addendum to that effect is attached. To increase the rent (or any other amount noted on page 1 of the lease) at the end of the initial lease term, the owner must give you the same amount of notice that you are required to give if you plan to move out at the end of the term, plus five days
Is there any limit on rent increases?
Texas does not have any rent control laws. Rents are determined by property owners and are typically market-driven.
How do I complain about the property management or owner?
You have a number of options. You should first discuss your situation with the onsite management, and try to resolve any issues. If that fails, you may want to contact the management company office or the property owner to complain. You can also contact the TAA affiliated local association in the area where the property is located, for more information or referrals to other sources of assistance
How do I find out who owns or manages the property?
Request it in writing from the onsite manager. Under state law, if you make a written request to the managing agent of the owner, you are entitled to be given the name and mailing address of the owner and/or the name and street address of the property management company. This information is also available to government officials acting in an official capacity.
If you cannot get this information and if you follow statutory notice procedures, you may be able to terminate your lease or sue for your cost of getting the information, one month’s rent plus $100, court costs and attorney’s fees.
How do I find out if the property is a member of TAA?
Contact the TAA affiliated local association in the area where the property is located, for more information or referrals to other sources of assistance
Can I stop paying rent until a repair is made?
No. Texas law prohibits “rent strikes” or withholding rent in order to force repairs. There are other remedies in the law to encourage property owners to make repairs.
What can I do if the dwelling owner will not make a repair?
If the lease requires the management to make repairs, inform the manager in writing and keep a dated copy. The law requires in nearly every instance that the owner must repair:

1. Security devices

2. Conditions that materially affect the health and safety of the ordinary resident.

Problems that cause discomfort or inconvenience are not covered by the statute.

·Give the manager written notice of the needed repairs, and keep a dated copy.

·If you don’t receive a response within a reasonable time, re-notify the manager orally and in writing.

·If you still don’t get a response, you may have legal grounds to exercise statutory rights of lease termination, compulsory repairs, damages, penalties, third-party repair and deduct, and attorney’s fees.

·Instead of giving two separate written notices, you can give a single notice by certified mail, return receipt requested.

You must follow specific procedures to exercise your statutory remedies, and disregarding those procedures can expose you to a civil damages suit against you by the owner. You may want to seek legal advice to exercise your statutory remedies (lease cancellation, compulsory repairs, etc.)

You may want to contact your city building inspector’s office or county health department if you feel the condition violates state statutes or local housing codes regarding safety and sanitation.

What is the dwelling owner required to repair or maintain?
Review the terms of your lease to see how repairs are addressed. The law requires in nearly every instance that the owner must repair:

1. Security devices

2. Conditions that materially affect the health and safety of the ordinary resident.

Problems that cause discomfort or inconvenience are not covered by the statute

How can I get my security deposit refund?
First, give whatever written notice your lease requires. (Most leases require at least a 30-day written notice). Your security deposit cannot be kept for failure to give such notice unless the provision requiring it is underlined or in bold type in the lease.
To best assure refund of your security deposit:
·You must stay for the full term of your lease.
·You must give written notice of your forwarding address.
·You must not be delinquent in your rent or other sums owed when you move out.
·You must leave the premises in a clean condition and follow any other lease provisions regarding your security deposit refund.
·You cannot deduct the amount of the security deposit from your last month’s rent. If you do so, you can be sued for three times the amount of the deposit plus attorney’s fees.
·Go through your apartment or other rental property with the manager to check its condition against your “move-in” inventory checklist.
When should I receive my security deposit refund?
Within 30 days of your move-out, your security deposit or an itemized description of deductions must be mailed to you. If you don’t receive a refund or explanation postmarked within the 30-day period, you may sue for three times the amount illegally held, plus attorney’s fees and a $100 statutory penalty.
What can be deducted from my security deposit?
· Any charge specified in the lease or any charge resulting from your breaking the lease.
· Charges for damages, wear and tear resulting from negligence, carelessness, accident or abuse on your part. “Normal wear and tear” items cannot be deducted.
· Unpaid rent and other unpaid charges listed in your lease, such as those for late rent payment, returned checks, animal violation charges, missing furniture or fixtures, keys you don’t return to the management, etc.
· The reasonable cost of cleaning if you fail to properly clean before you leave. Many rental properties have written cleaning instructions for you to follow.
Any deduction must be listed in a written description and itemization mailed to you on or before 30 days after you leave. However, there is no obligation that you be furnished this information if you have not paid all of your rent or if you have not given your forwarding address in writing.
Can I deduct my security deposit from my last months rent?
No. You cannot deduct the amount of the security deposit from your last month’s rent. Your security deposit is not part of your rent payment. It is money paid in advance to offset any damages you cause or other non-rent amounts you owe to the property while you live there. If you deduct your security deposit from your last month’s rent, you can be sued for three times the amount of the deposit plus attorney’s fees. You may also be responsible for a reletting charge and unpaid rent.
What should I do if I disagree with deductions made from my security deposit?
You have a number of options. You should first discuss your situation with the onsite management, and try to resolve any issues. If that fails, you may want to contact the management company office or the property owner to complain. You can also contact the TAA affiliated local association in the area where the property is located, for more information or referrals to other sources of assistance. You can also sue the owner for what was wrongfully withheld plus statutory penalties and attorney’s fees.
I'm buying a house. Can I get out of my lease?
There seems to be a common misperception that buying a home allows you to break your lease; that’s not true. Unless you and the property owner agreed to some special provision when the lease was signed, you will still be responsible for any charges noted in your lease if you move out early to purchase a home. Such charges may include a “reletting fee” (to cover the property’s cost of getting the apartment leased again) and the remainder of the rent through the end of your lease term, less rent received from a subsequent resident.
My company is transferring me to another city. Can I get out of my lease?
Unless you have a transfer clause in your lease that was agreed to by all parties when the lease was signed, you’ll still be responsible for any charges noted in your lease if you move early because of a job change or move. Such charges may include a “reletting fee” (to cover the property’s cost of getting the apartment leased again) and the remainder of the rent through the end of your lease term, less rent received from a subsequent resident. You may want to discuss this with your employer when you are negotiating the transfer.

I don't think the property is maintained well. Can I get out of my lease?
Maybe, but that decision will likely be made in court. If repairs are not being made to conditions that materially affect the health and safety of the ordinary resident, and you follow the appropriate notice provisions outlined in state law, you may exercise statutory remedies that can include terminating your lease. However, you must follow the notice procedures carefully. You may want to get legal advice before trying to use these provisions in the law.
I don't feel safe at the property anymore. Can I get out of my lease?
If a crime occurs at a property, it’s unfortunate for all concerned: the victim, the other residents at the property and the dwelling owner. Most owners don’t give any guarantees about the security of the property, or promise you that no crimes will occur on the property. So the owner is not likely to be in default of the lease if a crime does occur on the property. You can certainly discuss the specific situation with the owner or management to see if they are willing to accommodate your requests, or can advise you about additional precautions you should take. If you still want to move out, you can do so, but you will likely be responsible for any penalties outlined in your lease for moving out early.
I'm in the military, and I'm being transferred or deployed. Can I get out of my lease?
Under paragraph 23 of the TAA Lease Contract, the owner is required to allow you to move out early under certain circumstances. You may terminate your lease contract if you enlist or are drafted or commissioned into active service in the U.S. Armed Forces or are a member of the Armed Forces or reserves called to active duty AND are either:

(i) given change-of-station orders to permanently depart the local area;

(ii) deployed with a military unit or as an individual in support of a military unit for 90 days or more; or

(iii) relieved or released from active duty.

When a member of the Armed Forces terminates a lease under paragraph 23, the termination automatically terminates the lease for any spouse or dependent who may have signed it. If, at the time of signing a lease, you already knew about the change of duty station or retirement or knew that your term of enlistment would expire prior to the end of your lease term and if you failed to inform the owner of such facts prior to signing, you are liable to the owner for liquidated damages in the amount of all rent losses that the owner may incur during the remainder of the original lease term—even though you have terminated the lease under paragraph 23.

How much notice must I receive to be evicted?
Unless your written lease states otherwise, you must be given three days’ notice of an eviction. TAA Lease Contracts allow 24 hours’ notice for eviction.
What happens if I get an eviction notice?
These are the major steps in the eviction process:

·You’ll receive a written notice to vacate from the property management. If your lease is in writing, it may allow this notice to be given just one day before you’re asked to move out. If you don’t have a written lease or your written lease does not state otherwise, you must be given at least three days notice.

·The property owner files an eviction lawsuit in justice of the peace court

·A constable will serve you with lawsuit papers

·A hearing is held in JP court (shortly after you receive a copy of the lawsuit)

·If the property owner wins, the constable will evict you, and may peacefully remove your property from your apartment.

Can the manager enter my apartment when I'm not at home?
There are a number of reasons why property managers or maintenance staff may need to enter your apartment, and it could be very inconvenient for you if you always had to be home and available when these circumstances arose. If you signed a TAA Lease Contract, you’ve given permission to the apartment management and/or maintenance personnel to enter your apartment when you are not there for:
·responding to your request
·making repairs or replacements
·estimating repair or refurbishing costs
·performing pest control or doing preventive maintenance
·changing filters
·testing or replacing smoke detector batteries
·retrieving unreturned tools, equipment, or appliances
·preventing waste of utilities
·exercising a contractual lien (removing your non-exempt belongings if you haven’t paid the rent)
·leaving notices
·delivering, installing, reconnecting, or replacing appliances, furniture, equipment, or security devices
·removing or rekeying unauthorized security devices
·removing unauthorized window coverings
·stopping excessive noise
·removing health or safety hazards (including hazardous materials), or items prohibited under our rules
·removing perishable foodstuffs if your electricity is disconnected
·removing unauthorized animals
·cutting off electricity according to statute
·retrieving property owned or leased by former residents
·inspecting when immediate danger to person or property is reasonably suspected
·allowing persons to enter as you authorized in your rental application (if you die, are incarcerated, etc.)
·allowing entry by a law officer with a search or arrest warrant, or in hot pursuit
·showing apartment to prospective residents (after move-out or vacate notice has been given)
·showing apartment to government inspectors, fire marshals, lenders, appraisers, contractors, prospective buyers, or insurance agents
Under the TAA lease, the management must leave notice of entry inside your apartment indicating that a management representative entered the apartment, and why he or she was there.
If you are at home when the management wishes to enter the apartment for any reasonable reason, the management must ask to enter peacefully and at reasonable times.
How much notice must I give to move out?
Your lease will tell you how much notice you must give if you are moving out at the end (or before the end) of the lease term. Moving out before the end of the lease term will violate the terms of the lease, and you’ll be responsible for any charges outlined in the lease for being in default.
Can I get a copy of my lease?
Under the TAA Lease Contract, you are entitled to a signed original of your lease. Ask for it when both parties (you and the property owner or owner’s representative) have signed the lease, or request one later if you did not receive one when you first signed it.

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