If you own a Texas rental property, you should know the laws related to residents breaking a lease early, meaning before the lease expires.
This article will discuss justified and unjustified reasons for breaking a lease early. 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 residents.
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 lease.
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to ensure that they understand the consequences of unjustifiably terminating a lease, as well as Texas tenant rights to justifiably terminate the lease early.
It’s important to include how much notice is required from a tenant when ending their period lease. Residents 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.
The rental document 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 premises is vacant.
Moreover, you should also include the resident’s rights to sublet the premises in your rental agreement.
Residents aren’t allowed to sublet the property without any prior approval from the landlord. Residents 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 state law provides landlords the power to reject the request for sublease.
Unjustified Reasons for Breaking a Rental Agreement 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 early lease termination:
- Buying a house
- Moving to another rental unit due to job or school relocation
- Upgrading or downgrading a lifestyle
- Moving in with a partner
- Moving to be closer to family
Residents who end 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 residents 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. To minimizes loses, landlords can find a replacement tenant and re-rent the unit to help cover the total remaining rent.
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
Rental owners are required to provide a safe environment for their residents. The rental should be habitable and in compliance with the health and safety codes under state 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, especially if it violates Texas health standards.
4. Landlord Harassment or Privacy Violation
As a landlord, it’s important to respect your resident’s privacy. You should be aware of what things are considered landlord harassment, so you can avoid them. If a landlord repeatedly violates residential leases, residents can take the matter to small claims court.
For example, if you need to enter the property, you need to provide residents with a written notice prior to the visit. Texas law, however, doesn’t state the number of days required for the notice.
In addition, rental owners are not allowed to change the locks without permission from the residents. If the landlord cuts off utility services, the tenant may be allowed to terminate the lease without any obligation.
5. Domestic Violence
Under state 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. A landlord may require residents to provide proof of status before releasing them from their lease obligations.
6. Other Reasons
There are other reasons that may allow residents to legally break before the lease ends, 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 property owner. Make sure to familiarize yourself with your rights and the rights of your residents to avoid any issues later on.
When in doubt, work with a professional 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.