Working as a landlord may sound like a great way to pay the bills without a lot of hassle. All you have to do is collect rent and send someone for repairs, right?
But being a landlord may be a more involved process than you think, and it’s easy to make a mistake that hurts your finances and your business. Texas requires landlords to uphold certain responsibilities. You could lose money or be taken to court if you’re not focused on meeting these requirements.
If you’re not sure you’re meeting these landlord requirements, reach out to a business lawyer at The Curry Law Firm. We can help you take the right steps to keep your tenants happy and continue to profit.
Writing the Lease
One of your first concerns as a landlord is the residential or commercial lease every tenant should sign. While some people may not want to deal with the legal paperwork, this is a contract that lays out your responsibilities, your tenant’s rights, and what you can do if your tenant doesn’t comply with these rules. Having a written contract can help you if future problems arise.
But you can’t just put anything in the lease. If you have an illegal clause, such as one that puts the responsibility of repairs on the tenant, you could land in legal trouble. Because of this, you may need to review your lease with an attorney, who can ensure your business is on the right track.
Habitable, Safe Housing
Texas renters have certain rights regarding the housing they’re renting. One of the core tenets of these rights is the right to safe, habitable housing. They should be able to enjoy their residence in peace.
That means it’s your responsibility to make sure your properties are safe and habitable. If an emergency situation occurs, such as a broken pipe, a gas leak, or malfunctioning air conditioning in the summer, you may be responsible for repairing that damage as soon as possible.
Even in non-emergency situations, you’re required to act within a reasonable time to repair the damage. If you take too long to repair the damage, you may have legal trouble between you and the impacted tenant.
While landlords are free to be selective about their tenants, you’re not legally able to discriminate against potential tenants. Acting inappropriately, asking unfair questions, or choosing not to rent to someone because of their inclusion in a protected category can lead to complaints or even lawsuits.
For example, an applicant may have a bad credit history or a bad reference from a past landlord. But if you chose not to rent to them because of their race, religion, or because of a disability, you may face a discrimination lawsuit.
The Fair Housing Act protects potential tenants from rejection based on discrimination, so speak with a lawyer if you’re worried about the legality of your behavior. Your lawyer can help you determine whether your questions or decision broke the law, and they can represent you in court if the other party sues.
State Rent Laws
You may have already added all the information your tenant needs about rent to the lease—how much their rent is, where they can deposit it, and their time limits for paying rent before they accrue late fees may be included. But even your careful outline can have problems. Your tenant may believe you’re breaking state laws on rent, and you may be concerned about your rights if the tenant fails to pay.
First, your late fees must be within a reasonable range. This is typically 10 to 12 percent of the rent the tenant would pay. If your late fees are more than that, you may need to consider reviewing your lease. State law also governs when you’re allowed to evict tenants and the timeframes within which they can be asked to move out, so check with your lawyer before you act.
Know Your Landlord Requirements Before You Begin
As a landlord, you have a duty to make sure your tenants’ needs are met. If you fail to do so, you could land in legal trouble, which can impact your future and your finances.
Because of this, you may need a lawyer at The Curry Law Firm to represent you in the courtroom, or you may need a lawyer to help you avoid these problems in the first place. Acting before trouble happens can mean avoiding future headaches for you and the renters.
If you’re struggling to understand state laws regarding landlord requirements, or if you need someone to help you deal with a lawsuit in a Texas court, reach out for a free consultation with our attorneys. We can look into your case when you call 713-678-0013 or fill out the online contact form below.