If you own a Texas rental property, you should know the laws related to tenants breaking a lease.
This article will discuss justified and unjustified reasons for breaking a lease prior to its supposed end date. As a landlord, it’s crucial to know the Texas rental laws so that you can protect your rights, as well as the rights of your tenants.
Texas Lease Agreement
Before you let a tenant move into your property, it’s essential to have a clear rental agreement in place. Prior to the tenant signing the lease, make sure to explain all provisions indicated in the agreement.
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to ensure that they understand the consequences of unjustifiably breaking a lease, as well as Texas tenant rights to justifiably terminate the lease earlier than agreed.
It’s important to include how much notice is required from a tenant when ending their period lease. Texas tenants are required to give notice to the landlord if they choose to end their period lease. The number of days will vary depending on the rent payment frequency, as follows:
- Week-to-week lease: 7 days’ notice
- Month-to-month lease: 30 days’ notice
There is no statute for quarterly and annual leases in the state of Texas.
The rental agreement should also include the landlord’s responsibility of reletting the property. When the property is rented out again, the previous tenant will only be responsible for paying rent for the period the property is vacant.
Moreover, you should also include the tenants’ rights to sublet the property in your rental agreement.
In Texas, tenants aren’t allowed to sublet the property without any prior approval from the landlord. Tenants must request approval through certified mail, with a return receipt.
The letter of request should include the sublet term, names of the proposed sub-tenants, reason for subletting the unit, and written consent of any co-tenants.
A copy of the proposed sublease must also be included. It’s worth noting that Texas law provides landlords the power to reject the request for sublease.
Unjustified Reasons for Breaking a Lease in Texas
The following reasons do not provide sufficient justification to release a tenant from the lease. If a tenant breaks a lease due to any of the reasons described below, they’re not protected against penalties for not honoring the lease agreement.
Here are unjustified reasons for breaking a lease:
- Buying a house
- Moving to another place due to job or school relocation
- Upgrading or downgrading a lifestyle
- Moving in with a partner
- Moving to be closer to family
Tenants who break a lease for any of these reasons without court approval or in any conditions not previously outlined can expect serious consequences.
If a tenant needs to pre-terminate their lease for any of these reasons, the tenant should negotiate with the landlord for a mutual termination.
Justified Reasons to Break a Lease in Texas
As a landlord in Texas, it’s your duty to know the justified reasons for breaking a lease early. Early termination of the lease agreement may be allowed without penalties for the following reasons:
1. Early Termination Clause or Mutual Termination
As a landlord, you have the right to include an early termination clause to allow tenants to break a lease earlier in exchange for a penalty. Make sure to include the amount of the pre-termination fee and the amount of notice required.
Also, you can have a mutual agreement with the tenant to end the lease early. This is known as a mutual termination, which should be agreed upon by both parties in writing.
2. Active Military Duty
If the tenant is on active military duty and is relocated due to deployment or permanent change of station, they can terminate their lease starting the date of entering duty and ending between 30 to 90 days after discharge.
To be eligible, the tenant should have signed the lease before entering active duty. They should also prove that they’ll remain on duty for the next 90 days and provide a written notice with a copy of orders to deploy or permanent change of station.
3. Uninhabitable Unit
Landlords in Texas are required to provide a safe environment for their tenants. The property should be habitable and in compliance with the health and safety codes under Texas law.
This means that landlords need to make necessary repairs within a reasonable timeframe. If the landlord fails to make the required repairs within the allowable time period, the tenant may be allowed to break the lease.
4. Landlord Harassment or Privacy Violation
As a landlord, it’s important to respect your tenants’ privacy. You should be aware of what things are considered landlord harassment, so you can avoid them.
For example, if you need to enter the property, you need to provide tenants with a written notice prior to the visit. Texas law, however, doesn’t state the number of days required for the notice.
In addition, Texas landlords are not allowed to change the locks without permission from the tenants. If the landlord cuts off utility services, the tenant may be allowed to terminate the lease without any obligation.
5. Domestic Violence
Under Texas law, the protection of domestic violence victims falls under specific rental provisions. They may terminate the lease earlier without any liability for future rent if they need to move for their safety. Texas landlords may require tenants to provide proof of status before releasing them from their lease obligations.
6. Other Reasons
There are other reasons that may allow tenants to justifiably break a lease before its expiry date, such as the following:
- Death of the tenant
- Landlord’s violation of the lease agreement
- Illegal or unenforceable lease agreement
- Landlord’s failure to comply with mandatory disclosures
- Senior citizen or health-related reasons
Being well-versed in the Texas landlord-tenant laws is essential if you want to be a successful rental property owner. Make sure to familiarize yourself with your rights and the rights of your tenants to avoid any issues later on.
When in doubt, work with a professional property manager. Contact Keyrenter McAllen at (956) 257-9900 and we’ll be happy to help you get started!
Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.