Your things are packed, you’ve cleaned your old home down to the baseboards, and you’re ready to move in to your new place!
…Or are you?
Before you enter into a new lease, there are a few things you need to be aware of in order to protect yourself and your health legally. In a new living situation, you have no idea how your landlord will act for the long haul. You don’t know if they’ll respond to you in a timely manner or make needed repairs when requested.
- Check if your city has a tenant association. You can call to inquire about complaints from previous tenants and ask about the landlord’s other rental properties, if there are any.
- Do not EVER put down a deposit or sign a lease before seeing and inspecting the exact pace you will be renting. Model apartments can be misleading, and if the landlord or apartment refuses to let you see the space there’s reason for justifiable suspicion.
- Do a thorough inspection of the place. – note the smell, check the stove, toilet flush, refrigerator, heating and A/C, garbage disposal, hot water, etc. Look for stains or miscoloring that could indicate mold. If the landlord promises to fix things, get it in writing or refuse to give the deposit until it’s done.
- DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. If you end up needing lawyer, you will want it all on paper. Don’t let any agreement be explicitly oral – get it in writing with signatures.
As a tenant in Texas, there are a few rights you should know about:
- SECURITY. At the owners’ expense, all doors leading outside should have a peephole or see-through glass pane, a door handle lock or deadbolt on the front entry door, a pin lock and handle latch or security bar on sliding glass doors, a smoke detector, and each window needs a latch.
- “QUIET ENJOYMENT.” You have the right to live your life in reasonable peace and quiet. This means the landlord cannot evict you without cause or disturb your peace needlessly.
- Except a few very specific circumstances, the landlord does not have the right to interrupt their tennant’s utilities unless for a construction/repair emergency.
- SB 1448 (81st Regular Session), effective January 1, 2010, dictates that judges can order landlords to make repairs that negatively affect the health and safety of the tenant as long as the cost is less than $10,000. Tenants can get one such repair order by going to justice court, no attorney needed.
If the landlord refuses to make repairs needed for the health and safety of the tenant, you have the right to:
- End the lease;
- Get the problem repaired and take the cost from your rent; or
- Force the landlord to make the repairs by filing suit
But remember: You do NOT have a right to withhold rent because the landlord fails to make repairs when the condition needing repair does not materially affect your health and safety. Following this method may open you up legally for the landlord to sue you instead. Always make sure your rent is up to date.
Thank you for visiting the Real Men Moving blog, an Austin moving company. If you don’t want to risk throwing your back out moving call us for a free consultation.