Rent regulation laws aim to keep housing affordable. Generally speaking, a rent regulation system involves four main elements: price controls, eviction controls, landlord and tenant responsibilities, and an oversight system.
Most states and cities across the United States have some form of rent regulation. In such states, landlords are required to rent out properties only at a certain price, and cannot increase the price at their will. Other states like Texas, however, don’t have rent regulation laws; the only exception is in case of a disaster or pandemic.
In this article, we here at McCaw Property Management are going to provide you with a basic overview of what Texas law says about rent increases.
How much can a landlord increase rent in Texas?
As there are no rent stabilization or rent control laws in Texas, landlords can raise the rent by as much as they wish. That said, if you have signed a fixed-term lease with your tenant, then you’ll need to wait for the existing lease to expire before you can adjust the rent price.
If you have a month-to-month rental agreement, then you are at liberty to charge your tenant as much rent as you want. The only thing you’d need to do is serve your tenant with a 30 days’ notice before increasing the rent.
What exceptions can lead to rent stabilization in Texas?
As previously mentioned, there are some special cases that can warrant a rent stabilization law in Texas. As per the state’s Property Code under Section 214.902, Texas municipalities can pass rent control laws under certain conditions. Namely during a disaster such as oil spills, earthquakes, fires, floods, and storms, and during a pandemic like COVID-19.
The governor must approve the proposals, and terminate them when the disaster has reached manageable levels. To give you some perspective on how rarely the law is used, no rent stabilization law was passed even during Hurricane Harvey – one of the most destructive storm systems ever to impact the Gulf Coast.
Even now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no current ordinances preventing a rent hike in Texas. In March and April, though, two counties – Hidalgo and El Paso – did freeze rent temporarily. However, the ordinances only lasted a month or two and have since expired.
Do you need to notify your tenant of a rent increase?
This depends on the type of lease you have. Unlike most other states, there is no law requiring Texas landlords to give their tenants a notice of rent increase.
If operating a fixed-term lease, then you need to wait until the lease has expired to hike it. And, if operating a month-to-month lease, then all you’ll need to do is notify your tenant at least a month (30 days) prior. The notice must be provided to your tenant in writing.
When does a rent increase become illegal in Texas?
A rent increase can become illegal in either of three instances: when done before the expiration of the current lease, if done discriminatorily, and if done as an act of retaliation.
As a landlord in Texas, you are obligated to abide by Texas Fair Housing Laws. Essentially, the law makes discrimination based on the states’ protected classes illegal. The protected classes include race, color, national origin, religion, disability, age, sex, genetic information, and citizenship status.
As for retaliation, it’s illegal for you to increase the rent of a tenant as punishment for exercising their legal rights. Tenants have the legal right to:
- Complain to a government agency such as a health inspector, a fire department, or a building inspector about bad living conditions in the property
- Exercise their rights to join a tenant union
- Withhold rent for an unhabitable rental unit, or deduct money from the rent to fix defects in the rental unit if the landlord hasn’t responded to their repair requests.
Still have more questions? McCaw Property Management can help. We are an experienced property management company that has been offering quality rental management solutions in the Dallas/Fort Worth area since 2003. Get in touch with us by dialing (817) 491-2553, or by leaving us your details here.