Landlords in Texas must comply with the state's forcible detainer and eviction laws to legally evict their tenants. Before evicting tenants, landlords must provide them with a written notice of eviction. Tenants in Texas have a right to unilaterally terminate their lease agreements after providing three or seven days' written notice or an opportunity to remedy the lease violation in certain situations.
In Texas, landlords must provide tenants with a written notice to vacate prior to filing an eviction lawsuit with the Justice of Peace courts. Court approval before eviction and supervision by a constable during eviction is required under Texas laws. Typically, landlords in Texas must provide at least 30 days written notice prior to evicting a tenant. Tenants, however, may use the three-day eviction notice requirements to terminate their lease agreements unilaterally.
Texas law allows tenants to terminate their lease agreements unilaterally with three days' written notice only when landlords fail to comply with the duty to provide a safe living environment. This duty requires landlords to re-key their locks after each tenant moves out and prior to the next tenant moving in. The landlord must re-key by the seventh day after the new tenant moves in. Landlords who fail to re-key or reinstall new locks violate the state's laws requiring them to provide tenants with the right to peaceful, quiet and safe enjoyment of the rental property. Landlords have only three days to re-key when tenants experience an attempted break-in or actual break-in within the tenant's unit or any other unit in the complex. Tenants who provide written notice to the landlord requesting a re-key or change in locks have legal rights to move out when landlords do not comply with the three- or seven-day re-keying laws.
Rights to Terminate Tenancy
Tenants who provide written notice and fail to obtain the lock change or re-keying have legal rights to repair and deduct the costs of re-keying or changing locks from rent, terminating the tenancy without court approval or filing a lawsuit for damages and penalties. Under Texas law, tenants may sue for actual damages and rent, civil penalties of $500, court costs and attorney's fees.
Texas provides landlords with lien rights for removing "non-exempt" property within the landlord's rental unit to sell in order to satisfy outstanding rent delinquencies. Landlords must comply with lease provisions allowing them to exercise lien rights, and if the lease agreement allows lien actions, then the lease agreement must contain a notice and disclaimer in conspicuous bold and underlined print. Landlords can also exercise the state's lien rights by requesting approval to do so in court.
Since real estate laws can frequently change, you should not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.