In the United States, every state defines its laws and regulations. Every state has its rent regulations formulated in accordance with subsets of apartments. The idea is to monitor affordable housing and keep people from going homeless and broke.
On the other hand, the landlord can increase the rent with certain discretions, as much as they wish, and whenever they want.
So, let's find out:
- What do these terms mean?
- What are the exceptions?
- What are the limitations?
These questions will help us understand the rights of both tenant and landlord in Texas.
Related Reading: What Needs to be Included in a 30-Day Notice to Vacate Letter
How Much Can a Landlord Raise Rent in Texas
Unfortunately, Texas has no law control or rent stabilization laws like in other states. Hence the state fails to regulate or intervene on how much a landlord can raise the rent in Texas. According to the Apartment List National Rent Report rents in key cities in Texas have gone up over the past 6 and 12 months. Dallas, for example, saw a 5% rent increase over the past 6 months, and Austin saw a 22% rent increase over the past 12 months. A Redfin Data Report suggests the Austin rent increase could be as high as 40% year over year.
That being said, there are some decrees where the government or governing body can intervene according to the rent laws of Texas. Let's explore the laws to understand the exceptions and anomalies.
Rent Law of Texas
Under Section 214.902, the municipality can decree the rent control ordinance under some conditions like:
- If the governing body believes there is an emergency or disaster or
- The government asserts the ordinance.
In case of disaster, it lies to the discretion of the governing body of the state to classify the calamity or emergency as a concern to debunk any rent hikes.
How Can You Have Fixed Rent in Texas?
Only a fixed-term lease can bind the landlord not to raise the rent until the lease ends. After the lease ends, the landlord can raise however they want when renewing the lease.
Also, in a month-to-month lease, the landlord can raise the rent any time after producing a notice one month prior.
So, if you are looking to have a fixed rent, you can talk to the landlord when signing the lease. That would give you the edge to have the same rent for the term of the lease.
There are only certain limitations that bind the landlord. As mentioned in Texas Property Code, section 214.902, only certain scenarios revoke the rent control law.
These include natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, storms, fires, etc.), oil spills, epidemics, or pandemics.
The governor can implement the rent regulation after the disaster has affected the state. However, the nature of implementation can be assessed by the nature and magnitude of the disaster.
For instance, in 2017, hurricane Harvey was a Category-4 disaster and caused major devastation in the state. But the rent control did not come into effect even after the calamity.
Similarly, during the 2020 and 2021 pandemic, few counties had implemented the law not to hike the rent. But the law remained in the ordinance for a month or two, coming back to no effect on rent hikes even after the pandemic.
Can Landlords Raise Rent In A Pandemic?
Some states have implemented the law to prevent renters from eviction during the pandemic 2020. The law lasted for March and April 2020; later, the ordinance was retracted.
The state did not implement the ban on rent increases during the pandemic. So it doesn't imply that the landlord not to increase the rent.
The only solution to get out of a rent increase is by discussing it with your landlord. Oftentimes, the landlord also prefers to keep the old tenants rather than find the new ones.
Is It Mandatory for Landlords to Intimate Before Rent Hike?
The intimation of a rent hike depends on two cases. First, if you have the yearly lease with a set date, the landlord cannot hike the rate. They can only hike it when renewing the contract with new terms and rates.
However, if you have a month-to-month lease contract, the landlord can increase the rent on one month's notice.
When Can an Increase in Rent Become Illegal?
Certain situations classify the rent hike as illegal in the state of Texas. Those are:
- Increasing before the end of the lease
- And the act of retaliation
In Texas, every landlord must follow the Texas Fair Housing Laws. The discrimination makes the protected classes illegal based on laws designed by the state.
The sections of protected classes are implemented in case of race, religion, disability, sex, age, nationality, genetic information, citizenship status, and color.
Correspondingly goes for the case of lease. When signing the lease for a year, the tenant and landlord agree on the rent. The lease document indicates that the rent will remain the same until the end of the lease term.
In this scenario, the landlord has to wait for the lease term to end and cannot increase the rent.
If a tenant exercises their legal right, which doesn't sit well with the landlord, and a rent hike comes as a response or retaliation, it is termed illegal.
The legal rights include:
- By making a complaint to any governmental agency regarding certain conditions in the building. Such as health inspectors, building inspectors, fire departments, or any other regulatory body for lousy living conditions.
- By joining any tenant union. Suppose the landlord is uncomfortable with the tenant joining any union and retaliates against it. However, it is the legal right of the tenant to join any tenant union.
- Use rent money to fix any defects in the rental unit. The tenant can use the rent money for these fixes when the landlord has failed to comply with the fixes, resulting in terrible living conditions, health hazards, or safety hazards.
Is There a Certain Limit to Rent Increment?
Again, no! The landlord can increase the rent as much as they intend to. However, this can cause a loss of income in the future.
If tenants find the rent unreasonable, they are likely to move out when they find something within the budget. However, since the rent is high, conflicting with the space and location, there are chances to have new tenants any time soon.
Anyhow, when the old tenants leave, it's a loss of income for the landlord. That's because the property will stay vacant until someone comes along and agrees to the hiked rents.
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