Renting Basics

 

Getting ready to rent your first apartment? Renting again after a few years out of the rental market? Even an old pro may need a refresher course in renting basics. The information in this section should help you make informed decisions as a renter.

This section is ideal for general information and answers to commonly asked questions on a variety of topics.

If you're looking for in-depth information on renting, however, you'll want to consider taking Renting 101, TAA's in-depth online education course designed to help first-time renters select, lease and live responsibly in rental housing.

Before you rent

Whether you're renting your first place of your own, moving to a new city or area, or just need a change of scenery, one of the most important decisions you'll make is where you'll live.

If you are renting, you will most likely sign a lease, which is a legal obligation to live someplace and pay rent for a certain length of time (usually six months or a year). There are very few exceptions in which a lease can be broken. Therefore, your rental home should be chosen with great care.

Learn the lingo

Renting a place to live may be a lifestyle choice for you, but it's also a business transaction. Here are some common terms you'll need to be familiar with:

  • Lease: A lease is a binding, legal contract in which you agree to pay some amount of rent for a specific piece of property, for a specific period of time.
  • Lease term: The length of time you agree to rent the property: 6 months, 9 months, a year, etc.
  • Security deposit: Money you pay when the lease is signed to help offset the cost of any lease violation charges or property damages to the property while you are living there.
  • Application deposit: Money you may be asked to pay in advance at the time you complete a rental application. If you are approved to rent the property, the application deposit (not the application fee) is usually applied to your security deposit.
  • Rental application: A form you'll be asked to complete, giving information about your current and past addresses, current and past employers, other sources of income, criminal history, etc. Information in the application helps the property owner determine if you can afford to pay the rent and are unlikely to be a risk to the property or other residents.
  • Application fee: An administrative fee to cover the costs of checking your credit, rental history, etc. when you submit a rental application. This fee is non-refundable.
  • Default: Failing to follow the provisions agreed to in the lease.
  • Resident: Someone who signs the lease and is obligated to pay rent.
  • Occupant: Someone living with a resident, but who has not signed the lease and is not obligated to pay rent.
  • Reletting charge: A sum of money or percentage of the rent that is agreed to cover the property owner's costs of finding another acceptable resident if you move out before the end of your lease term.
  • Notice to vacate: Written notice given to you by the property owner, advising you that you must move out before the end of your lease term; this is the notice you will receive if you are being evicted. A notice to vacate can also be given to advise you that the property owner will not renew your lease for any additional term.
  • Subletting: An agreement made by a resident and another person, without permission of the property owner, for the other person to rent all or a portion of the property from the resident. Subletting is not lawful without express permission from the owner.
  • Joint and several liability: If more than one resident signs the lease, each resident will be individually responsible for fulfilling the terms of the lease and paying the entire rent, even if the other residents do not pay their share.
  • Eviction: The property owner asks a Justice of the Peace Court to end the resident's right to occupy the property. If you are evicted, a constable will remove your belongings and you must leave the property. The eviction process allows a Justice of the Peace to determine the merits of the property owner's request.

When you're looking to rent

  • Set a budget you can afford. Don't forget that you may need to pay for utilities and other items not included in your rent. Many properties will not approve you as a resident if you'd have to spend more than a third of your gross income on the rent.
  • Check out your credit record with a report from a consumer reporting agency (credit bureau), and clear up any problems or mistakes on your record before you fill out a rental application.
  • If you are under 18, a student, or you don't have enough income to qualify to pay the rent, you may be asked to secure a "guarantor." A guarantor is usually a parent, relative or employer who will agree to pay your rent if you do not. The guarantor is not someone who will live with you.
  • Make a list of what you are looking for in your new home, including the kinds of features that will make you feel comfortable with your choice. Use your list to check out the rental housing you're considering.
  • Look over any property you're considering and see how well it is maintained. That will give you some indication of how well the property is managed and cared for.
  • If you're considering an apartment or multi-unit property, talk to some of the existing residents about their experiences with the property. Ask how satisfied they are with the property, how repairs or other problems have been handled, and if they would recommend the property to their friends.
  • Visit the places you're considering at night, to see if they look well lit. Compare them to similar properties in the neighborhood.
  • Drive around the neighborhood you're considering, and look at the other rental properties available.
  • Ask the leasing agent or the owner or manager of the property how emergencies are handled, and how any crime or safety concerns are communicated to residents.

Learn the lingo

Renting a place to live may be a lifestyle choice for you, but it's also a business transaction. Here are some common terms you'll need to be familiar with:

  • Lease: A lease is a binding, legal contract in which you agree to pay some amount of rent for a specific piece of property, for a specific period of time.
  • Lease term: The length of time you agree to rent the property: 6 months, 9 months, a year, etc.
  • Security deposit: Money you pay when the lease is signed to help offset the cost of any lease violation charges or property damages to the property while you are living there.
  • Application deposit: Money you may be asked to pay in advance at the time you complete a rental application. If you are approved to rent the property, the application deposit (not the application fee) is usually applied to your security deposit.
  • Rental application: A form you'll be asked to complete, giving information about your current and past addresses, current and past employers, other sources of income, criminal history, etc. Information in the application helps the property owner determine if you can afford to pay the rent and are unlikely to be a risk to the property or other residents.
  • Application fee: An administrative fee to cover the costs of checking your credit, rental history, etc. when you submit a rental application. This fee is non-refundable.
  • Default: Failing to follow the provisions agreed to in the lease.
  • Resident: Someone who signs the lease and is obligated to pay rent.
  • Occupant: Someone living with a resident, but who has not signed the lease and is not obligated to pay rent.
  • Reletting charge: A sum of money or percentage of the rent that is agreed to cover the property owner's costs of finding another acceptable resident if you move out before the end of your lease term.
  • Notice to vacate: Written notice given to you by the property owner, advising you that you must move out before the end of your lease term; this is the notice you will receive if you are being evicted. A notice to vacate can also be given to advise you that the property owner will not renew your lease for any additional term.
  • Subletting: An agreement made by a resident and another person, without permission of the property owner, for the other person to rent all or a portion of the property from the resident. Subletting is not lawful without express permission from the owner.
  • Joint and several liability: If more than one resident signs the lease, each resident will be individually responsible for fulfilling the terms of the lease and paying the entire rent, even if the other residents do not pay their share.
  • Eviction: The property owner asks a Justice of the Peace Court to end the resident's right to occupy the property. If you are evicted, a constable will remove your belongings and you must leave the property. The eviction process allows a Justice of the Peace to determine the merits of the property owner's request.

Avoiding Scams

Many renters find information about available rental properties using the Internet. The overwhelming majority of these ads are legitimate. However, some are fronts for scams, and before they open their checkbooks, renters should do additional research to ensure they avoid falling victim.

Many online rental scams identify a vacant property, claim to be the owner and post a listing for the home on sites such as Craigslist. Online classified ads for rental properties often offer photos and virtual tours – which gives scammers a high-tech opportunity to lure unsuspecting victims. After a potential resident expresses an interest, the scam’s perpetrator instructs the renter to wire a cash deposit and the first month’s rent. Once the money has been wired, the scam artist pockets the money and disappears – and the renter still lacks a place to live.

If a savvy renter asks to personally inspect the property prior to wiring the money, scammers often claim the actual owner or landlord is out of town and unable to show the house – but still demands immediate payment to reserve the property.

Some con artists go to even greater lengths. For example, scammers can break into abandoned homes and change the locks so that they can provide keys to new tenants. Unfortunately for the victims in these cases, they move in to houses that the actual owners did not intend to lease. When homeowners discover the new residents in the house, the tenants must vacate and find a new place to live.

Under another variation of the rental scheme, con artists will rent foreclosed homes to multiple victims. The scammers tempt potential renters by advertising a rental price that is significantly lower than other homes on the market. After receiving a renter’s cash deposit through a wire transfer, the scammer disappears and the victim’s money is lost.

Before agreeing to pay a deposit for an online rental, compare the property’s lease with other rental homes in the area that have similar amenities. Prospective renters should then verify that the rental home and the person claiming to be its owner or manager are legitimate. Most local appraisal districts operate websites that list each property’s actual owner. Renters should also make sure the home’s owner or management company is local and not claiming to live overseas – where they are conveniently difficult to reach.

If the homeowner  or manager claims to be unavailable to meet in person, potential renters should proceed with caution. Prospective lessees should also view the property before making a cash deposit or paying the first month’s rent. Reputable landlords will allow clients to inspect the property before demanding any up front payments.

A lessor’s request for up-front cash deposits through wire transfers – rather than an ordinary check – should also raise a red flag for would-be renters. Unfortunately, advance fee crooks are always on the move and nearly impossible to catch.

College and university students should carefully protect themselves – and their pocketbooks – from rental scams. Before signing a rental agreement, providing any personal information or making an up-front payment, prospective renters should verify that the rental property and the landlord are legitimate. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Points to Remember: Avoiding Online Rental Scams

  • Potential renters should always compare prices of different rental homes. Deals that sound too good to be true usually are.
  • When communicating with a homeowner, renters should verify that the homeowner is locally located or is represented by a reputable management company. Landlords who claim to live overseas or are unable meet in person should be handled cautiously.
  • Prospective renters should never pay advance money to a landlord without personally inspecting a rental property. Legitimate landlords expect a potential renter to want to see the property first and welcome the client’s inspection of the property.
  • Potential renters should always protect their personal information and never wire money in advance to a website or online advertiser. Once money has been wired, it is nearly impossible to track down and return to the victim.
For more information about this or other consumer topics, contact the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 252-8011 or visit online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov
.    

What to look for in your lease

Besides the features you must have and the amenities you'd like to have, you'll need to take a close look at your lease to see what your obligations will be, and what you can expect from the property owner.

  • When is the rent due, who do you pay it to, and where?
  • Are there late charges if you don't pay the rent on time? How much are they, and when do they first apply?
  • How much advance notice must you give before moving at the end of your lease term? Thirty days written notice used to be the norm when rent is paid monthly, but some properties now require 60 days notice.
  • What will you be responsible for if you need to move out before the end of your lease term? Does this include paying back the difference between the market rental rate an any special rate you may have received?
  • Can you have roommates, and what are the property's policies toward roommates?
  • What restrictions, if any, will affect your security deposit refund?
  • What are the property owner's obligations to make needed repairs? A requirement for diligence is common.
  • How should you request repairs? You may be asked or required to make all repair requests in writing. Even if it's not required, it's a good idea to put all requests in writing.
  • What does the rent include? Any furniture? Utilities? Parking? Amenities?
  • Are there any instructions for cleaning the apartment when you move? Cleaning costs usually can be deducted from your security deposit if you fail to follow instructions.
  • Are there prohibitions against subletting or keeping animals? Written permission is usually required. Also, there is usually an extra deposit for animals.

Can you make changes in a lease?

Your lease provides both you and the property owner with the "ground rules" for your relationship. It should cover all the basic questions about who will be responsible, for what, where, by when, how and why, and what will happen if either responsible party does not meet their obligations.

Lease provisions may be negotiable, which means the lease language or form can be changed by mutual agreement.

  • If you want to make a change in a lease provision, or add a provision to your lease, ask the manager to write in the change and initial it. You should initial the change as well.
  • If the manager does not agree to a change, you can reconsider your requirements or choose to rent somewhere else.
  • Don't rely on an oral agreement if it contradicts a written lease provision.
  • When you and the owner's representative sign the lease, you are both agreeing to all the terms in it at the time it was signed.
  • You should ask for a signed original of the lease for your records.

State law does not require you to have a written lease, unless your initial lease term is for more than one year. However, it can be difficult to prove what was included in an oral agreement.

Avoiding problems

Most disagreements between residents and rental housing owners or managers occur because of misunderstandings about obligations each has agreed to in the lease.

To limit problems:

  • Read your lease carefully before you sign it.
  • Ask questions about anything that is unclear, or that you don't understand.
  • Put everything in writing, including agreements, notices and requests.

What will it cost?

The real estate adage that the three most important things about a property are "location, location, location" applies to rental properties as well.

Local rents usually take into consideration:

  • the cost of living in the community
  • the cost of doing business in the community (taxes, utility costs, impact fees, inspection fees or permits, etc.)
  • the cost of building and financing the property
  • the cost of operating the property (staff costs, maintenance, improvements, etc.)
  • what comparable properties are renting for
  • what features and amenities are offered to all residents at the property
  • the size and particular features and amenities of the actual apartment

There are no rent control laws in Texas. That means property owners are free to set their own rental rates, and you are free to accept them or look for a better deal at another property that meets your needs.

Know your budget, and don't look at properties you can't afford. If you've identified properties you're interested in, ask for the properties' rental criteria to find out if they are in your price range.

Rent will be a big part of your budget, but it's not the only expense you'll have associated with your cost of housing. Make sure you also plan for other expenses.

Your budget will also need to consider:

  • Routine expenses
  • Moving expenses
  • Furnishings and household necessities

Utility costs

  • When you are comparing apartments, ask which, if any, utilities are included.
  • You'll almost certainly be paying for electricity and gas, if applicable.
  • Paying for water and wastewater, gas, trash collection and other services is common.
  • You'll pay for any cable, Internet and phone service you use, as well.
  • Most utilities charge on consumption--the more you use, the more you pay.
  • In some parts of the state, you may have more than one choice when it comes to your electric provider. Check out the Texas Electric Choice Education Program website for more information on electrical providers in your area at www.powertochoose.org.

Deposits

There are three main types of deposits involved in renting property:

  • Application deposits
    • An application deposit is money you may be asked to pay in advance at the time you complete a rental application.
    • If your application is not approved, the deposit is refundable in most cases. However, depending on the application you fill out, the deposit may not be refunded if you are accepted but decide not to move in, you fail to tell the truth on your application, or for certain other reasons.
  • Security deposits
    • A security deposit is money you pay in advance to offset the cost of any damages to the property while you are living there.
    • You'll be expected to pay a security deposit when you first move in. Often an application deposit is applied to your security deposit.
  • Pet or animal deposits
    • An animal deposit (sometimes called a pet deposit) is additional money you are asked to pay in advance to offset any damages caused by an animal during the time you are renting the property.
    • If you'll be moving in with a pet, you can expect to pay a pet or animal deposit.
    • An animal deposit is basically an additional security deposit.
    • A portion of the fee you pay may be non-refundable and used to cover costs for de-fleaing and cleaning your property.
  • Other deposits
    • In addition to the deposits you'll be expected to pay the property owner, you may also be required to give deposits for utility services. Utility deposits may vary depending on your history of payment, expected usage and the policies of the various utility companies.

What can be deducted from your security deposit?

  • Any charge specified in the lease or any charge resulting from your breaking the lease.
  • Charges for damages, wear and tear resulting from negligence, carelessness, accident or abuse on your part. "Normal wear and tear" items cannot be deducted.
  • Unpaid rent and other unpaid charges listed in your lease, such as those for late rent payment, returned checks, missing furniture or fixtures, keys you don't return to the management, etc.
  • The reasonable cost of cleaning if you fail to properly clean before you leave. Many rental properties have written cleaning instructions for you to follow.

Any deduction must be listed in a written description and itemization mailed to you on or before 30 days after you leave. However, there is no obligation that you be furnished this information if you have not paid all of your rent or if you have not given your forwarding address in writing.

Renter's insurance

What happens if you are robbed, or there is a fire or other accident at your rental property? Who will pay for your damaged or lost belongings?

If you have renters insurance, your insurance should cover your losses, minus any deductible.

If you don't have insurance, you'll be responsible for replacing or repairing your property. Your personal property--your clothing, furniture, electronics, appliances, jewelry, etc.--is not covered by the apartment owner's insurance when you rent an apartment, or by a property owner's homeowner's insurance if you are renting a house or duplex.

If the property owner or his employees negligently caused the accident, you may have grounds to recover damages from the dwelling owner, but you'll need to have legal advice.

If you were responsible for the damage, you may be liable to the property owner or other residents whose property was damaged. Because of this, some properties may require you to purchase renter's insurance or personal liability insurance.

More information about renter's insurance is available from the Texas Department of Insurance.

Help with the rent

If you're a student or you don't earn enough money to qualify for an apartment on your own, you may be asked for a guarantor--someone who will guarantee to pay your rent if you don't.

A guarantor is usually a parent or relative, but can be any adult who is willing to accept legal responsibility for fulfilling your obligations under a lease, if for any reason you do not.

Many people also choose to share expenses by having roommates

  • If you'll be sharing the rent with a roommate, make sure you both understand your responsibilities.
  • If you both sign the lease, each of you will be responsible for the full amount of the rent if the other does not pay.
  • If your roommate moves out before the end of the lease, you'll still be responsible for all the rent.
  • If you need to find another roommate to help with expenses, your new roommate will need to be approved by the property owner, and you may need to sign a new lease or a lease addendum.
  • An unauthorized occupant is a person who is not a co-resident on the lease and is not listed as an occupant on the lease. These individuals are not allowed to stay in the unit beyond the specified length of time listed in the lease for visitors and are not responsible for the terms of the lease. The residents listed on the lease are responsible for any expenses the owner must incur due to actions by any unauthorized occupants, and the residents could be held liable for any damages caused by any unauthorized occupants.

Rental applications

When you find a place where you want to live, you'll probably be asked to fill out a rental application.

The application normally will ask for your current and past addresses, current and past employment, credit references, criminal history and other information the property owner or manager needs to make sure that you can afford to pay the rent and that you don't pose any risks to the property or the other residents.

  • Application fees and application deposits
    • In most cases, you will be charged an application fee to cover the cost of processing your application: running credit checks, verifying rental histories, etc. This fee is non-refundable.
    • You may also be asked to pay an application deposit. This deposit does not become a part of your security deposit until your application is approved and the lease is signed by both parties.
    • If your application is not approved, the deposit is refundable in most cases.
    • Depending on the application you fill out, the application deposit may not be refunded if you are accepted but fail to move in, you fail to tell the truth on your application, or for certain other reasons.

Under Texas law, you have the right to receive a copy of the property's rental criteria at the time you are provided with a rental application. 

What happens if the owner does not return my application deposit?

If an owner in bad faith fails to timely return an application deposit, the owner may be liable for a civil penalty of $100, three times the amount of the application deposit and reasonable attorney's fees.

There is no set deadline for return of an application deposit, other than the requirements of "timeliness" and "good faith." Thirty days is the norm.

How will I know if my application has been accepted?

Usually, the property manager will notify you once you've been approved.

  • If you have not heard from the property at the end of seven days after you've completed your rental application and given the property an application deposit, you can legally assume you've been rejected and are entitled to a return of any application deposit.
  • Your application fee is not refundable.
  • The seven-day timeframe is spelled out in state law. If the seventh day falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, the property owner has until the end of the next business day to notify you of acceptance.

If you need repairs

If something is broke, you'll definitely want it fixed. How should you handle repair requests?

  • Make sure you understand what the property owner is required to repair or maintain, and anything you may be required to pay for or fix.
  • Review the terms of your lease to see how repairs are addressed. Many leases require a written notice. Regardless, it is a good idea to make all repair requests with a written notice and keep a copy for your records.
  • The law requires in nearly every instance that the owner must repair security devices and conditions that materially affect the health and safety of the ordinary resident. You can be required to pay for the repair if it was caused by you, your occupants or guests.
  • Problems that merely cause discomfort or inconvenience are not covered by the statute.

Can you stop paying rent until a repair is made?

No. Texas law prohibits withholding rent in order to force repairs. There are other remedies in the law to encourage property owners to make repairs.

What can you do if the property will not make a repair?

If the lease requires the management to make repairs, inform the manager in writing and keep a dated copy.

The law requires in nearly every instance that the owner must repair security devices and conditions that materially affect the health and safety of the ordinary resident. Problems that cause discomfort or inconvenience are not covered by the statute.

  • Give the manager written notice of the needed repairs, and keep a dated copy.
  • If you don't receive a response within a reasonable time, re-notify the manager orally and in writing.
  • If you still don't get a response, you may have legal grounds to exercise statutory rights of lease termination, compulsory repairs, damages, penalties, third-party repair and deduct, and attorney's fees.
  • Instead of giving two separate written notices, you can give a single notice by certified mail, return receipt requested.

You must follow specific procedures to exercise your statutory remedies. Ignoring those procedures can expose you to a civil damages suit against you by the owner.

You may want to seek legal advice to exercise your statutory remedies (lease cancellation, compulsory repairs, etc.)

You may want to contact your city building inspector's office or county health department if you feel the condition violates state statutes or local housing codes regarding safety and sanitation.

If you have roommates or pets

If you plan to have a roommate or pet (or any kind of animal), you need to find out the rental property's policies beforehand.

  • Roommates
    • If you'll be sharing the rent with a roommate, make sure you both understand your responsibilities.
    • If you both sign the lease, each of you will be responsible for the full amount of the rent if the other does not pay.
    • If your roommate moves out before the end of the lease, you'll still be responsible for all the rent.
    • If you need to find another roommate to help with expenses, your new roommate will need to be approved by the property owner, and you may need to sign a new lease or a lease addendum.
    • An unauthorized occupant is not considered a roommate and is not responsible for fulfilling the terms of the lease. If you move, any unauthorized occupant is not responsible for the remaining lease term and you, alone, will be required to fulfill any terms required by the owner in relinquishing your occupancy of the unit prior to the end of the lease term.
  • If you have animals
    • If you have an animal, or would like to get one, check with the property first about its policies concerning animals.
    • Except for support animals for disabled individuals, properties are not required to accept pets or other animals.
    • If animals are allowed, an additional deposit is common. There may also be a non-refundable fee to cover cleaning costs, etc.
    • If you keep an unauthorized animal, you'll be violating your lease and you may owe additional charges for having the animal.
    • Follow the property's rules concerning your animal or pet. Don't allow your animal to roam free, or disturb your neighbors.

More information from the Humane Society.

I'm worried about mold in my apartment. What should I do?

There's been a lot of talk about mold recently in the media. Mold is found everywhere in our environment, both indoors and outdoors and in both new and old structures. In general, most types of mold are harmless. Some types of mold may cause health-related problems for some people. However, to date there is not definitive information about the types and amount of mold accumulation that may cause a problem.

What can you do to prevent mold in your rental housing, and what should you do if you suspect mold?

Keeping your dwelling clean and promptly reporting any water leaks or other water-related problems to the property owner or management are two important steps you can take. Learn more by viewing TAA's Practical Tips for Residents Regarding Mold. (link to pdf)

More information about mold is available from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

If you break a lease

A lease is a binding legal contract, and there are very few circumstances in which you can break a lease without penalty.

Buying a home, being transferred by your employer, moving to another city, or getting a divorce does not allow you to simply walk away from a lease with no consequences. Note that there are some exceptions for military personnel and victims of domestic violence.

Unless you and the property owner agreed to some special provision when the lease was signed, you will still be responsible for any charges noted in your lease if you move out early.

Charges may include:

  • a "reletting fee" (to cover the property's cost of getting the apartment leased again)
  • the remainder of the rent through the end of your lease term, less any rent received from a subsequent resident.

What if the property is not being maintained?

You may have grounds to terminate your lease and move out, but that decision will likely be made in court if the property owner disagrees.

If repairs are not being made to conditions that materially affect the health and safety of the ordinary resident, and you follow the appropriate notice provisions outlined in state law, you may exercise statutory remedies that can include terminating your lease.

However, you must follow the notice procedures carefully. You may want to get legal advice before trying to use these provisions in the law.

What if you don't feel safe at the property?

If a crime occurs at a property, it's unfortunate for all concerned: the victim, the other residents at the property and the property owner.

A property owner can not give absolute guarantees about the security of the property, and can't promise you that no crimes will occur on the property. So the owner is not likely to be in default of the lease if a crime does occur on the property.

You can certainly discuss the specific situation with the owner or management to see if they are willing to accommodate your requests, or can advise you about additional precautions you should take.

If you still want to move out, you can do so, but you will likely be responsible for any charges outlined in your lease for moving out early.

What if you're in the military, and you're transferred?

Under the law and paragraph 23 of the TAA Lease Contract, the owner is required to allow you to move out early under certain circumstances. You may terminate your lease contract if you enlist or are drafted or commissioned into active service in the U.S. Armed Forces or are a member of the Armed Forces or reserves called to active duty AND are either:

(i) given change-of-station orders to permanently depart the local area;

(ii) deployed with a military unit or as an individual in support of a military unit for 90 days or more; or

(iii) relieved or released from active duty.

When a member of the Armed Forces terminates a lease under paragraph 23, the termination automatically terminates the lease for any spouse or dependent who may have signed it.

If, at the time of signing a lease, you already knew about the change of duty station or retirement or knew that your term of enlistment would expire prior to the end of your lease term and if you failed to inform the owner of such facts prior to signing, you are liable to the owner for liquidated damages in the amount of all rent losses that the owner may incur during the remainder of the original lease term--even though you have terminated the lease under paragraph 23.

A landlord and resident may agree in writing that the lease cannot be terminated in order for the resident and dependents to move into base housing or other housing within 30 miles of the property, unless that property is owned or rented by the resident's family or the resident has experienced a significant financial loss, which is defined by law.

Eviction

If you don't pay your rent or you violate some other provision of your lease contract, the property owner may seek to have you evicted. In an eviction, the owner asks a justice of the peace court to end the resident's right to occupy the property. If you are evicted, a constable will remove your belongings and you must leave the property.

  • How much notice must the property owner give you of an eviction?
    • Unless your written lease states otherwise, you must be given three days' notice of an eviction.
    • TAA Lease Contracts allow 24 hours' notice for eviction.
    • This notice is called a notice to vacate.
  • What happens next?
    • Once an eviction lawsuit has been filed in a JP court, you'll receive copies of the lawsuit papers from a constable.
    • A hearing is held in JP court (shortly after you receive a copy of the lawsuit.)
    • If the property owner wins, the constable will evict you, and may peacefully remove your property from your apartment.
    • You have the right to appeal if the eviction is decided in favor of the property owner.

What happens if you get an eviction notice (a notice to vacate)?

These are the major steps in the eviction process:

  • You'll receive a written notice to vacate from the property management.
  • If your lease is in writing, it may allow this notice to be given just one day before you're asked to move out.
  • If you don't have a written lease or your written lease does not state otherwise, you must be given at least three days notice.
  • The property owner files an eviction lawsuit in justice of the peace court.
  • A constable will serve you with lawsuit papers.
  • A hearing is held in JP court (shortly after you receive a copy of the lawsuit).
  • If the property owner wins, the constable will evict you, and may peacefully remove your property from your apartment.
  • You have the right to appeal if the eviction is decided in favor of the property owner.