The Austin rental market is currently in equilibrium. The vacancy rate is around 4.9%, only 0.1% below the benchmark for a balanced market.
Now is an excellent time to start marketing to new tenants. But first, you need to ensure you understand your property maintenance responsibilities as a Texas landlord.
Luckily, this guide can help you do just that. Keep reading to understand your duty of care as a landlord and the consequences of not meeting it.
What Are a Landlord's Property Maintenance Responsibilities in Texas?
Texas landlords must make efforts to keep their properties in good condition. Part of this is keeping up with regular maintenance and tenant repair requests.
There are a few prerequisites here. The first is that the tenant sends notice to the landlord; the second is that the tenant must be current on rent.
A third requirement is the request must be for an issue that impacts the tenant's physical health or safety. Examples of conditions that may require repair under Texas law include:
- Sewage backups
- Pest infestations
- Fault electrical wiring
- Issues that violate city health or fire codes
- A unit without hot water of a minimum of 120°F
A fourth requirement is that the issue must occur from normal wear and tear. Tenants who inflict damage to property can't ask their landlord to fix the problem. Or if they do, the landlord can ask for reimbursement.
What Are a Tenant's Property Maintenance Responsibilities in Texas?
A tenant's property maintenance responsibilities in Texas depend on the lease agreement. Landlords must clearly lay out the tenant's obligations in writing. The tenant must then sign that agreement in writing.
However, tenants have some rights regardless of the lease agreement's language. These rights include:
- The right to quiet enjoyment
- The right to issues that impact a tenant's health and safety
- The right to install security devices at the landlord's expense
Failing to comply with Texas Property Code laws gives tenants the right to terminate their lease. In worst-case scenarios, tenants can also sue their landlord over unaddressed repairs.
The Steps for Requesting Property Repairs in Texas
Tenants have the right to request repairs without fearing retaliation. It is against the law for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant for requesting a repair. However, tenants must follow the right steps to request a repair.
First, the tenant must give notice to the landlord. The notice doesn't have to be in writing unless the lease agreement specifies that it does. It is sufficient that a tenant tells you about the issue at the location where they pay rent.
But say the tenant did provide the first notice in writing. In that case, the law does not require a second notice (more on this in a moment).
After notifying you, the tenant must give you a reasonable amount of time to make the repair. Texas law defines a "reasonable amount of time" as one week or seven days.
If seven days have passed, the tenant must send a second notice. This notice should be in writing. You then have seven more days to remedy the issue before the tenant can take legal action.
A Property Manager Can Take Maintenance Needs Off Your Hands
As a Texas landlord, your property maintenance responsibilities include giving tenants a safe and healthy place to live. If you don't, you may risk losing valuable tenants or face costly lawsuits.
Do you need help managing your Austin rental property? Property Management Services is a full-service property management firm serving the greater Austin area. Learn more about our services and contact us to get started.