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Housing Discrimination

Housing Discrimination

This is one word you never want to encounter. Discrimination. Learn how to better protect yourself from a potential liability by reading this article.

Leasing Texas takes this very seriously and deviation from the Federal Fair Housing Laws is not tolerated in any case. Housing discrimination could cause serious harm to both the landlord and the prospective tenant and it’s always best if you know the rules and continue to educate yourself on these guidelines.


Avoiding Housing Discrimination

Are you ready to be a landlord?

Are you ready to be a landlord? | Advice for Consumers | Texas Association of REALTORS.


11/21/2014 | Author: Ward Lowe

Are you ready to be a landlord?

Being a landlord can be a wise decision but it isn’t for everyone. Here are some things to consider before you put out a for rent sign.

How is the rental market?
Just as you perform due diligence on a property and its condition, you should do your homework on the area’s rental market. Is there a steady stream of potential tenants? Some communities have an obvious source of tenants, such as a nearby university. Will the market support the level of rental income you envision? At a minimum, you want to be able to charge enough rent to cover the property’s mortgage, tax, insurance, and maintenance. If you’re unsure about any aspects of the market for a rental property or how much rent to charge, talk to a Texas REALTOR® who’s familiar with the area.

Polish your people skills
Successful landlords find good tenants and retain them so both parties are content. If you’d rather not take on tasks like addressing complaints or maintenance issues, you’ll need to hire a property manager. Many Texas REALTORS® specialize in property management and can take care of related duties including handling leases, managing funds, and screening applicants. I recommend working with a Texas REALTOR® who is also knowledgeable about local and state laws and tenants’ rights to ensure you are in compliance.

Being handy might not be enough
As a landlord, you will be responsible for the routine maintenance and emergency repairs on a rental property. Maybe you can handle annual touch-up work, but unless you’re well-versed in HVAC systems and your city’s  plumbing and electric codes, you’ll need phone numbers for reliable repairmen.

You’re always on call
One nice thing about renting out a garage apartment or half of your duplex is that you’re never far away if there’s an emergency with the property, such as a burst pipe or a fallen tree. However, if you don’t live nearby, it may be difficult to keep an eye on the property to ensure it’s kept in good condition. This is yet another reason why it’s a good idea to work with a local property manager who can help look after your property.

Protect yourself and your investment
The insurance coverage you need as a landlord is different than what you have as a homeowner. Landlord insurance can protect you and your investment property from loss of income in the event that the property becomes uninhabitable, like in the aftermath of a fire, or during a tenant-landlord dispute.


Get an expert’s advice
Finding a property, whether it’s for you and tenants or just to rent out, presents challenges that differ from just buying a house for you and your family. Use the services of a Texas REALTOR® with a background in property management. She’ll help you guide you through the process, from deciding if it’s appropriate for you to become a landlord to finding properties that best fit your search criteria.

Steps in the Eviction Notice Process


What happens if you get an eviction notice (a notice to vacate)?

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 home.
  • You have the right to appeal if the eviction is decided in favor of the property owner.

Breaking a lease

If you break a lease

A lease is a binding legal contract, and there are very few circumstances in which you can break a lease without penalty.

Buying a home, being transferred by your employer, moving to another city, or getting a divorce does not allow you to simply walk away from a lease with no consequences. Note that there are some exceptions for military personnel and victims of domestic violence.

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.

Charges may include:

  • a “reletting fee” (to cover the property’s cost of getting the apartment leased again)
  • the remainder of the rent through the end of your lease term, less any rent received from a subsequent resident.

Your recourse for repairs


What can you do if the property 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 security devices and 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. Ignoring 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.

Can you stop paying rent?

Can you stop paying rent until a repair is made?

No. Texas law prohibits withholding rent in order to force repairs. There are other remedies in the law to encourage property owners to make repairs.

If you need repairs


If you need repairs

If something is broke, you’ll definitely want it fixed. How should you handle repair requests?

  • Make sure you understand what the property owner is required to repair or maintain, and anything you may be required to pay for or fix.
  • Review the terms of your lease to see how repairs are addressed. Many leases require a written notice. Regardless, it is a good idea to make all repair requests with a written notice and keep a copy for your records.
  • The law requires in nearly every instance that the owner must repair security devices and conditions that materially affect the health and safety of the ordinary resident. You can be required to pay for the repair if it was caused by you, your occupants or guests.
  • Problems that merely cause discomfort or inconvenience are not covered by the statute but we encourage you to let us know about a potential problem so we may research our next course of action.

To report a maintenance issue to Leasing Texas, click here Maintenance Request