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Landlord-Tenant Law

Landlord-Tenant Law

Commercial and Residential Landlords:

Whether you are a business or an individual, if you are operating as a landlord, it is imperative that you have a working relationship with an attorney. Texas Law is very complex when it comes to Landlord-Tenant issues and a simple mistake could cost you dearly.

Landlords must follow strict laws when it comes to security deposits, official notices, and legal actions, including evictions. A savvy landlord should always have a Landlord-Tenant Attorney on retainer, so that if any issues arise, they can be dealt with promptly.

If you are a landlord, you should seek legal advice about your lease, potential liabilities, and courses of action for problematic tenants as soon as they arise. Texas law provides for attorney’s fees and court costs to the prevailing party in most landlord-tenant actions, so you have a financial incentive to seek legal representation. There are four main reasons why landlords consult with a Landlord/Tenant Attorney:

  • Drafting of New Lease Agreements 
  • Tenant Non-Compliance Notices
  • Delinquent Rent Notices
  • Evictions
  • Code Enforcement Issues

 

Commercial and Residential Tenants:

We are one of few real estate law firms that represent commercial and residential tenants in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, as well as landlords. Although most of our clients’ problems have to do with maintenance (or lack thereof), we have seen every kind of landlord/tenant dispute you can imagine. From maintenance issues to lease and code enforcement disputes we handle every type of case that tenants have.

For tenants, the most common calls, and inquiries we receive every day are either for maintenance issues or unreturned deposits. Various types of cases we handle for tenants are:

  • Association Harassment – Is the HOA or COA (Homeowners Association or Condo Association) that governs your residence making unreasonable demands of you as a tenant? A lawyer on your side can make a huge difference in how you are treated by the association. A simple cease and desist letter from a reputable landlord/tenant attorney may very well get the association permanently off your back.
  • Claims of non-compliance by Landlord – If your landlord claims non-compliance by you, the tenant, according to the terms of a lease agreement, they may have a claim for eviction against you. If you receive a notice of non-compliance you should immediately seek the advice of a landlord/tenant attorney.
  • Security Deposit Disputes – Did your landlord withhold too much of your deposit? Were you charged for nominal wear and tear, for which the landlord should have been responsible? Were you sent the proper notification regarding the withholding of your deposit? Was it sent to you within 30 days of your move-out date? We may be able to assist you in the recovery of your deposit if the charges were improper or if the notice was not sent, or not sent out within the time prescribed under Texas law.
  • Evictions – If you are served with an eviction you should seek legal advice right away. We can defend your eviction, and if you prevail in court, your landlord will have to pay for all of your attorney’s fees and costs. The prevailing party in an eviction action is awarded attorney’s fees and costs in most cases, as a statutory right.
  • Illegal Detainers – This is a legal action to remove a non-tenant co-inhabitant who is not paying rent, nor ever agreed to pay rent. Do you have a friend who won’t leave your home? We can get that pesky roommate out of your home for good.
  • Improper shut-off of utilities – Texas law provides for triple damages for improper shutting off of any utility. This means that if the landlord knowingly or unknowingly is responsible for the shutting off a power, water, or gas utility, you will be entitled to three times the monthly rent by your landlord. Don’t let your landlord bully you but seek the advice of a landlord/tenant attorney.
  • Landlord Harassment – Does your landlord harass you about paying the rent, outside of normal official notifications? You should only receive notices through the mail or posted on the property. Your landlord should not be texting or calling you for payment.
  • Lease Agreements (Drafting) – We draft lease agreements for tenants to supply to landlords who have never used one, for the protection and security of the tenants.
  • Lease Agreement (Review & Analysis) – Having a Real Estate and Contracts Lawyer review your lease agreement prior to execution is a smart idea. We can help you avoid issues before they arise by advising you of your renter’s rights ahead of time before you sign the lease agreement.
  • Maintenance Disputes – If your landlord is not making adequate efforts to maintain the property you are renting, we can assist you by sending the proper notification to the landlord, which will allow you to terminate your tenancy without any penalty. Using this approach will ensure that you maintain a claim to your deposit and avoid any penalties for breaking the lease. This is the most common demand letter we prepare and most frequently results in an immediate resolution of the dispute.
  • Roommate disputes – Disputes between roommates or co-inhabitants under a joint lease agreement are quite difficult to handle. The landlord will usually refuse to get involved and all tenants are equally liable under the lease.
  • Unreasonable landlord – Does your landlord provide you with adequate notice for inspections and/or a walk through? Is your landlord preventing you from quiet enjoyment of the property? Some landlords don’t understand the social boundaries of being a landlord. We may be able to solve that problem with a simple demand letter. A landlord who doesn’t abide by the lease agreement or displays unprofessional behavior is not only bad for their own business but a serious liability to their bottom line. We have seen inexperienced landlords pay dearly for past unprofessional behavior.
  • Non-refunded deposits and maintenance disputes are the most common cases that we litigate. Do you fear retaliation for calling code enforcement against your landlord? We have other ways of getting your landlord to uphold their end of the bargain.

Comprehensive Lease Assistance:

When entering into a lease agreement, it is vital to understand your commitments, duties, and contractual obligations. Both Landlords and Tenants have rights and legal responsibilities to one another and often the lynchpin of a landlord/tenant dispute is the blatant disregard for one such obligation. Litigation is the last resort in such cases because not only is it financially damaging, but lengthy, and contentious for both parties. At the Kazi Law Firm, we assist landlord and/or tenants in all aspects of commercial and residential leases, including but not limited to:

  • Preparation and interpretation of commercial and residential contracts
  • Breach of the lease or rental agreements
  • Lease negotiations
  • Maintenance and property use disputes
  • Forcible entry and detainer actions
  • Wrongful evictions
  • Wrongful retention of security deposits
  • Damage claims

The most common residential lease contracts used in Texas are the Texas Association of Realtors (https://www.texasrealestate.com/) and Texas Apartment Association Residential Lease (https://www.taa.org/) forms. Use of these forms requires membership in the applicable association and the forms are copyrighted. It is highly recommended that one of these lease forms be used when entering a residential lease in Texas, as these forms are following the Texas Property Code and the courts are accustomed to the form and provisions in each of the agreements.

Negotiating real estate leases allows the opportunity for a landlord or tenant to gain certain benefits (as well as avoid specific pitfalls) in the transaction. Unlike brokers and real estate agents, attorneys can modify the actual language of the form and draft special provisions and addenda as part of the lease contract. Realtors are limited to simply filling in the blanks on promulgated forms. The most common issues and adjustments made by real estate attorneys to the residential lease contract include:

  • Renter’s Insurance Provision
  • Repair Deductible Provision
  • “As Is” Language
  • Diplomatic Clauses

 

Hiring an experienced real estate lawyer for comprehensive contract review and drafting in residential lease transactions can greatly benefit a landlord or tenant in a transaction. At the Kazi Law Firm, we provide this service for an affordable flat fee.

 

What is the eviction process in Texas?

Eviction lawsuits in Texas are brought by landlords to regain possession of their property and unpaid rent. Justice of the Peace (JP) courts in Texas have jurisdiction over eviction or “forcible detainer” lawsuits in Texas. The eviction process is complicated and includes requisite notices, affidavits, and technical pleading requirements. Therefore, we highly recommend retaining an experienced real estate attorney to aid you with this course of action.

Evictions are primarily governed by Chapter 24 of the Texas Property Code. Steps in the eviction process include:

  • Post a three-day Notice to Vacate
  • File the eviction suit in the appropriate Justice of the Peace Court
  • Attend a hearing for the eviction
  • Receive a Writ of Possession/Judgment
  • Constable posts a 24-Hour Notice for tenant(s) to vacate the premises
  • Constable removes occupant(s) and their belongings

While the outline above depicts a simplified version of the foreclosure process, the reality is that notice requirements, IRS liens, bankruptcies, military service of borrower, and other laws make foreclosure a highly technical process. Whether you are in the position of borrower or lender, it is wise to use a real estate attorney to navigate the foreclosure process in Texas.

The Kazi Law Firm is proud to be one of the most respected, premier landlord-tenant firms in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. We aggressively and consistently serve clients in the following suburbs: Frisco, Plano, Prosper, Little Elm, Allen, McKinney, Celina, Richardson, Aubrey, Southlake, Colleyville, Flower Mound, Coppell, and Fairview.

 

Serving the community with integrity & legal expertise one client at a time