Following landlord-tenant laws is crucial to being a responsible property manager. If you fulfill your legal responsibilities you will spend far less time dealing with disputes and lawsuits. Knowing the rights of your tenants and understanding the law is the first step to being a successful landlord. Here are the best things you can do to stay away from complaints and claims in Texas.
1. Obey fair housing and anti-discrimination laws
Landlords are required to follow certain laws when it comes to advertising, including questions on rental applications, interviewing conduct and dealing with tenants. While you are legally able to reject applicants based on negative references, bad credit history or past behavior, this does not mean you can discriminate. Understand that you must not deny prospective tenants because of race, national origin, religion, familial status, sex, mental disability or physical impairments.
2. Provide a clear rental agreement or written lease
All landlords and tenants should sign a contractual agreement to establish the relationship and provide concise details. It sets out the rules both parties need to follow. Be mindful of what clauses you include in your lease. You cannot waive responsibility to provide habitable premises or fail to provide legally required disclosures. Avoid confusion and disputes by writing a clear and legal document that informs your tenants of their rights and responsibilities.
3. Abide by termination and eviction laws
While something a tenant does might bother you, it does not necessarily give you the right to retaliate. For example, tenants are legally allowed to do the following:
- Complain to you about illegal or unsafe living conditions.
- Complain to a health inspector about illegal or unsafe living conditions.
You are not allowed to terminate the tenancy, file an eviction suit, decrease services or increase rent based on a tenant exercising a legal right. Terminating a tenancy must be done according to specific rules set by state law. For example, if your tenant has not paid rent, you must provide a notice three days before eviction procedures begin.
Landlords who fail to carefully comply with landlord-tenant laws often end up in several disputes or lawsuits. When you comply with fair housing laws, follow rent rules, adhere to security deposit limits, provide habitable housing, prepare a thorough written agreement and avoid retaliation, you are more likely to manage your property without unnecessary problems. If you have questions regarding a dispute or your rights as a landlord, contact a landlord-tenant attorney. Whether you manage residential or commercial properties, you can get the legal help you need.