For a variety of reasons, sometimes tenants are unable to stay in your property for the entirety of the agreed lease term. Their job may have transferred them to another city. They could have found a roommate somewhere else with cheaper rent. If this is the case, they’ll want to break their lease agreement.
There are repercussions to breaking a leasing contract. In this post, we will take a look at Texas Laws to see what the legal reasons for breaking a lease are. We will also learn what consequences a tenant will face if their reasons wouldn’t stand well in court. It’s best to be aware of such matters to determine your rights as a landlord in this situation.
How to Get Out of a Lease in Texas
Breaking a lease is a difficult process. There are negative repercussions for a tenant wishing to do so, such as facing a potential lawsuit. Tenants may also lose their security deposit in the process and their credit score may be impacted negatively.
Texas Tenant Rights & Responsibilities
Even if you have reasonable grounds to file for an eviction, you are not allowed to:
- Disrupt a tenant’s usage of utilities by cutting the electricity or water.
- Change the locks of the rental unit to prevent tenant access.
- Detach doors, windows, or walls to discourage a tenant from living in the rental unit.
You are required to send the appropriate 3-day notice to your tenant to vacate the property. You have the option of whether to provide the tenant an option to pay the rent or correct a violation.
There’s no statute regarding sending a notice for the termination of a week-to-week lease in Texas. However, a month-to-month lease requires a written notice 30 days in advance (unless otherwise agreed upon in the lease) for the termination to be effective. Fixed end-date leases do not require any notices at all. They end on the last day of the lease.
Tenant Rights and Duties When Signing a Lease in Texas
The Texas landlord-tenant law requires you to follow the leasing laws upon tenancy end. When tenants are unable to pay their rent, you must give them a 3-day notice to vacate the property or pay their rent, if you give them the option. If the tenant refuses to leave the property, you may file an eviction lawsuit.
Reasons to Break a Lease Legally
- Breaking lease due to fear of safety
You must follow the proper building, health, and safety codes just like other states. When your property does not meet habitability standards, the tenant will be “constructively evicted”.
You are usually given a period of 7 days to make the necessary repairs but if you fail to do so, your tenant can move out. They must inform you in a second written notice before doing so. If you have fixed or repaired the situation then they cannot break the lease. They are only allowed to terminate it if their safety or physical health is threatened.
- Tenant harassment or invasion of privacy
Texas law requires that you provide your tenants with notice before entering the rental property. However, there’s no statute for how much time in advance you need to give this notice. If your tenant feels that you have repeatedly invaded their privacy then they can be relieved of their obligations to the lease.
- Victims of domestic violence
Under Texas law, a tenant is protected by special rental provisions for victims of domestic violence. You can ask for proof of domestic violence status from them before permitting them to move out.
In cases where sexual assault, sexual abuse, or domestic violence happens, you can allow your tenant to terminate their lease early. You must provide your tenant with a written notice informing them of the permitted circumstances.
Reletting Fee & Finding a New Tenant
As a Texas landlord, you are required by the State to find a new tenant if your current tenant chooses to break the lease. If your tenant leaves early and you have found a new tenant, the previous tenant is not obliged to pay for the remainder of the rent.
Texas law explicitly states that you must make reasonable efforts to re-rent the rental space rather than doing so passively in order to collect the remaining rent. Your tenant will only be liable to pay for the gap period when no one occupies the unit. You may also charge them a reletting fee to offset the costs of re-advertising your property.
How to Break a Lease in Texas – Conclusion
Tenants may choose to help you find a new tenant in order to get a good reference from you for their next rental property. If you cannot find a suitable tenant to replace them, they are still accountable to pay the remainder of their rent.
If you have specific questions about breaking a lease in Texas, you should hire the services of a qualified Texas attorney. Alternatively, you can seek help from a knowledgeable Texas property management company, such as OmniKey Realty.
Caveat: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in Texas. Laws frequently 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.