Resources available for tenants in bad situations with landlords

Resources available for tenants in bad situations with landlords
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 5:59 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 1, 2023 at 10:57 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - It happens to most of us at some point or another- renting a house or an apartment and running into a dispute with a landlord.

Sometimes it might be over repairs not being made, other times late fees, or even evictions.

So what rights does a tenant have in Texas?

When landlords refuse to make repairs to protect, health, safety or security – in certain circumstances tenants have the right to end the lease, withhold rent to pay for repairs, or file suit to force repairs – that’s according to the office of the Texas Attorney General – tenants must be current on their rent – and follow other criteria as well.

Research director with Texas Housers, Ben Martin, says despite those options, low-incomes often keep renters in bad situations.

“Eventually the squeeze is too much and you find the people making the lowest incomes losing stable housing through eviction, being unable to find a place to rent that they can afford,” says Martin.

He says one in five renters in the state of Texas pays more than 50 percent of their income towards rent.

“That’s money that they can’t pay towards groceries, gas, utilities, and other essentials.”

Martin says some cities – like San Antonio – are creating a Tenants Bill of Rights, to offer protection to tenants. They want this to expand to other cities as well.

The Tenant Bill of Right offers a number of protections for renters to include ensuring rentals meet minimum health and safety standards, repairs are made in good faith, among others.

“There are a number of imbalances in the system in Texas right now that really give an advantage to landlords and disadvantaged tenants.”

Their mission is to ensure that all Texans have access to safe, decent, affordable and stable housing.

At the state level, the tenant protection act was filed at the Texas legislature this year to further address many of the issues low income tenants face.

Learn more about the renter rights provided by the Attorney General office here.