The laws and regulations governing rental properties in Houston, TX are extensive and detailed. You need to understand the Texas Property Code and how it pertains to your property. A full chapter in that code focuses on landlord and tenant laws and requirements. This is something you need to refer to frequently so you stay out of trouble. Some of the most important parts of the law are the easiest to accidentally violate.
Installing Keyless Deadbolts and Door Viewers
Texas requires that extra locks are placed on rental properties. This isn’t a suggestion; it’s a requirement. Put deadbolts on your doors, and if you aren’t sure what that means or how to do it, contact a locksmith or a property manager who can help you get up to code. Door viewers are also required. This is extra security for your tenants, and it’s obligatory on rental properties. It’s basically a peephole on any exterior door, allowing a tenant to see who is outside before opening that door.
Smoke Detector Requirements
Smoke alarms must be installed in specific places in your property. In your own residential house, you can put in smoke detectors wherever you want, but rental properties with tenants require smoke alarms close to bedrooms. Refer to the Property Code for specifics.
Fair Housing Laws
Fair housing laws exist at the state, local, and federal levels. You must follow all of them and understand what type of criteria can be used to accept and deny tenants. There are protected classes of people against whom you cannot discriminate. You also have to understand the difference between a pet and a service animal. Make sure you educate yourself on fair housing laws.
Charging and Holding Security Deposits
One of the most contentious areas of landlord and tenant relationships is the security deposit. You have to hold it throughout the course of the tenancy, and be judicious when you’re deducting from it at the end of the lease. There are time-frames and documentation requirements involved, so be very careful with the security deposit.
Some repair requests are emergencies and need to be handled right away. If a tenant calls in the middle of the night with no air conditioning or a leaky toilet, you need to know whether it’s important enough to fix right away, or whether you can handle it the following day. Professional property managers are incredibly useful in these situations, not only because they know the law, but because they have relationships in place with vendors who can respond immediately.
If you have any questions about the laws pertaining to your rental property, please contact Terra Residential Services.