Signs your landlord is breaking the law

Living in an apartment or rented home should be a trouble-free experience. Landlords are a positive presence if they keep the place up and stay in contact about changes.

But some may look for a way to charge more or keep money to which they are not entitled. Here are a few signs to look for the possibility that your landlord is violating landlord-tenant law.

You get no or a partial security deposit refund. Texas law does not restrict the amount of a security deposit, but there must a reason for any of it to be withheld. Reasons may include move-in or pet damage. A landlord may be required to tell you the reason for keeping all or part of a deposit.

The landlord visits unexpectedly. Property owners may only use their key to enter a renter’s home or apartment in an emergency. Some landlords may exclude a privacy policy from a lease or request inspection rights, so check your lease for this language.

You get a rent increase in the middle of the lease. Rent increases may not be illegal, depending on the timing. But there are restrictions and a landlord may have violated the law by charging more rent. If your unit is rent-controlled or Section 8 housing, there are further restrictions.

A property sale is throwing you out. Landlords may sell their property at any time, even with renters in the deal, but they are required to provide proper notice to all lessees. Your lease may, however, include an early termination clause, which increases owners’ options.

Renters have rights if they are under the terms of a lease, and an experienced legal counselor can help you understand them. Seek assistance if you feel you are the victim of a violation of landlord-tenant law.

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