Renting out a property has become more complex, thanks to some strict laws and regulations that are in place on the state, federal, and local level. While Texas has always been considered a landlord-friendly state, there are recent laws in place that are uniquely designed to protect tenants and their interests.
If you’re renting out properties in Fort Worth or you’re thinking about investing in the Fort Worth rental market, you’ll need to be aware of some of the new and well-established laws that pertain to landlords and tenants.
Late Fees and Texas Law
Recently, the state of Texas passed a new law concerning the late fees that a landlord can charge a tenant. If your lease agreements have included steep late fees when rent is paid late, you may need to update your lease template.
All leases that went into effect on September 1, 2019 or later are subject to the new limitations on late fees. You can now only charge up to 12 percent of one month’s rent for a late fee. If you charge an amount over that, you’re going to be ordered by a judge to put a cap on what is collected.
You’re not permitted to charge late fees during the eviction process, either. When you’re trying to collect unpaid rent or win an eviction, you can only collect the amount of rent that’s due; late fees cannot be included in the judgment.
Evictions in Fort Worth
There are also state laws that impact how evictions are filed and how long they take. Last year, Texas increased the amount that can be disputed in a small claims court action. The limit went up from $10,000 to $20,000. This means courts are seeing more cases that were once settled in small claims court, including evictions.
The result is a longer wait when you’re trying to evict a tenant in Fort Worth. Once eviction protections expire for renters who are impacted by COVID, there will likely be a long line at the courthouse.
Texas Security Deposit Laws
It’s important to follow all the requirements of the security deposit law. This is an area where disputes with your residents are most common. The penalties can be expensive, so be careful and follow the timelines and requirements precisely.
In Texas, landlords must return security deposits within 30 days of the tenant leaving the property. If you’re going to keep some or all of the tenant’s deposit to pay for damage or cleaning or cover unpaid rent, you’ll need to provide an accounting statement that’s itemized to show what was spent and why.
You’re also not permitted to charge for general wear and tear items. If you’re struggling to define wear and tear versus tenant damage, talk to a Fort Worth property manager who can help.
Texas Rental Law: Rekeying the Property
There are a lot of requirements in the Texas Property Code that landlords and rental property owners must follow. One of the most basic laws is rekeying the property before a new tenant moves in.
Texas rental law states that the locks on a property must be rekeyed within seven days of new tenant moving in. This is required whether the property is turning over between tenants, or if a landlord had been living in the house previously, and then decided to rent it out to tenants. Regardless of the situation, the locks must be changed.
We’d love to tell you more about how to protect yourself against legal liability. If you need some help learning, understanding, and staying up to date on all the laws that come with Fort Worth property management, please contact us at Trend Property & Management.