Tenant Law in Texas
In Tarrant County, Texas, relationships between tenants and landlords can sometimes become strained.
Both parties to a landlord/tenant relationship are governed by an extensive body of laws and regulations, defining their legal rights and obligations.
Landlord's Rights in Tarrant County, TX
The most important and most discernible right that a landlord has is the right to timely payment of rent from the tenant. This, of course, means that the tenant has a duty to pay rent.
Landlords also have a right to be free from damage to the rented unit. Tenants are expected not to damage their dwellings, intentionally or negligently. Landlords can deduct the cost of repairs from the tenant's security deposit. In general, tenants are not accountable for damage resulting from ordinary wear and tear.
Tenant's Rights in Tarrant County, TX
Tenants, most basically, have a right to a habitable apartment. After all, this is what they're paying for. Tarrant County, Texas landlords are obligated to see that the units they rent to tenants are fit to be lived in by people. Many various defects might render an apartment uninhabitable, such as serious infestations and other problems with sanitation, lack of running water or electricity, or failure to provide adequate protection from the outside elements.
Additionally, tenants are entitled to common areas which are reasonably safe and clean, and free of physical obstacles. Areas such as lobbies, hallways, stairwells, and fire escapes must comply with the building codes of Tarrant County, Texas. Additionally, any other unreasonable safety hazard, even if it doesn't violate a specific provision of a building code, can create liability for the landlord if it injures a tenant.
Under federal and Texas law, tenants are also entitled to protection against discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, marital status, or gender. Such discrimination can lead to severe civil penalties against the landlord. Landlords further cannot discriminate against tenants based on physical disability, and have to make reasonable accommodations for physically disabled tenants. For example, they have to allow disabled tenants to make minor physical alterations to the unit (at the tenant's expense) to make it more accessible. Now, they don't need to allow the tenants to have the building remodeled. We're just talking about things like installing handrails in the bathroom, and similar things. The landlord can, however, require tenants to restore the apartment to its original condition, at the tenant's expense, once the tenant leaves.
Tenants are also legally protected from unfair eviction. Before a lease agreement expires, landlords cannot evict tenants unless they breach as significant term of the agreement by not paying rent, causing serious damage to the property, engaging in activities that are a nuisance to the other tenants, or engaging in illegal activity on the property, among other things.
Can a Tarrant County, Texas Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Tenants and landlords always want to avoid getting into any serious disputes - these disputes interfere with the tenant's living arrangement, and the landlord's business. In short, they help nobody. While a good Tarrant County, Texas attorney can certainly help his or her client prevail in such a dispute, they may be more valuable for their ability to help prevent such disputes from escalating in the first place.