Texas Landlords Will Forced To Be Slightly Less Abusive in 2014

Categories: Housing

Amy Silverstein
Don't miss this tempting offer from an apartment where all of the tenants were recently forced out in a mass-eviction.
Greedy slumlords have a lot of leeway in Texas to stomp on renters as they please. But starting Wednesday, that will change -- slightly. Under new legislation that went into effect yesterday, landlords are no longer allowed to hide your own lease from you or retaliate against you. Landlords, we think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Anyone who knows anything about contract law might be surprised to learn that hiding a lease from the very same renter who signed that lease is, in fact, a thing.

But there was never anything in the Texas Property Code that explicitly banned hiding the rental agreement. So, naturally, certain landlords saw an opening there and just went for it.

"We see people fairly frequently that only have a page or two of their lease," says Sandy Rollins, the Executive Director of the Texas Tenants' Union, an organization that gives free legal advice to tenants. "We also have people that have to request repeatedly for their contract. ... We wanted something on the books that said the tenant had a right to a copy."

Enter Senate Bill 630, a bipartisan bill authored by none other than Senator John Carona, the lawmaker who is usually known for screwing the little guy in favor of big business. Well, not this time. In fact, the apartment industry and real estate industry also threw their support behind this bill -- everyone agrees that you can't hide contracts from people who signed them and are giving you money.

The bill, signed into law this June, states that "a landlord must provide at least one complete copy of the lease to at least one tenant who is a party to the lease" within three business days.

The bill also amends the retaliation part of the Texas property code. Now, landlords can't go on a revenge spree against tenants who establish or just participate in a tenants' organization.

"Tenants should also have the right to meet with their neighbors to deal with common problems and to form a group without fear of retaliation," Alice Basey, board president of the Texas Tenants' Union, said in a statement. "Now we'll be able to do that, when needed, and be protected from eviction."

So, while it's still legal for your landlord to sue you for a bogus rental "discount" or to tow your run-down car, at least now you can form a support group to talk about it without fear.

In a press release, Rollins adds: "While more advances are needed to protect tenants from unfair situations, we are happy that these two laws are now on the books."

My Voice Nation Help

While I have always gotten a copy of my lease without even asking after signing, it doesn't shock me that this is an issue. There are a lot of really sketchy landlords and management companies out there.

The worst I have dealt with is GTF Realty in East Dallas. Fucking slumlords and they will screw you every chance they get.

James080 topcommenter

You've never had rental property, have you?


@James080 What, never had rental property and wanted to keep the full lease agreement from the renter? That's what this bill prevents, so what's the issue, James?


@amy.silverstein@P1Gunter Let's start with I lived in a tiny efficiency. Which is fine, that's what I signed up for. Lived there for 2 years, so I never expected to get my deposit back (even though legally I shouldn't be on the hook for carpet/paint after two years) because I've rented enough places to know the song and dance. What did shock me was the bill for $1400 on top of my deposit they sent me afterwards, most of it not even itemized. Just arbitrary dollar amounts with no reason attached to them.

Among the few things that were itemized were a new front door (door worked perfectly fine) that they insisted I tried to kick in (why would I kick in a door I had a key for?) and the warping had nothing to do with the fact that it faced west. Also the counter supposedly had to be replaced for no actual reason. Over the course of two years I never once saw an exterminator and it took me months to get my kitchen sink fixed by them, despite being a management company.

They're your run of the mill slumlords, nothing new, but I would recommend never doing business with GTF Realty. I've had 3 different places since I moved back to Dallas in 2006 all in the same area and they were far and away the worst company I did business with.

James080 topcommenter


When I was a renter I was never denied a copy of the lease, and I have never leased property to a tenant without providing them a copy of the agreement, or providing them a replacement copy after they lost the original.

The headline read (somewhat non-nonsensically): "Texas Landlords Will Forced To Be Slightly Less Abusive in 2014," which implies all landlords are abusive. Frankly, I exited the residential rental business a few years ago because I was tired of abusive tenants destroying my property, constantly late with rent, and disappearing in the middle of the night leaving rent due and the house trashed. That's my issue Tim.


@James080 The Obs has an inflammatory, inaccurate headline.

Must be a day ending in Y.

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