Texas Real Estate Law for Business Owners
I have found that homeowners generally face the same set of issues and have the same set of questions regarding their rights, duties, and obligations as homeowners under Texas law. The answers to these questions depend on whether residential or commercial tenants are involved. Although the ownership and operation of commercial and residential properties have some similarities, the differences are numerous and diverse enough to warrant a separate treatment for each area. This article is intended to discuss commercial property issues with commercial tenants only. This article is my attempt to create a very general and quick reference guide to the rights, duties, and obligations of business owners and operators under the Texas Property Code. It is by no means comprehensive, but is hopefully informative enough to help the reader ask informed questions of legal counsel and therefore be more efficient and economical in consulting legal counsel.
You should not take this article as legal advice, and I strongly urge you to seek competent legal advice for your specific situation. The Texas Legislature updates and passes new laws related to landlord / tenant issues on a regular basis. Additionally, Texas courts interpret these laws regularly. Therefore, the laws discussed in this article are in effect as of December 2005. I have not assumed any duty or obligation to update this article beyond this date.
I. Duty to mitigate
If a tenant abandons the leased premises in breach of the lease, the landlord has a duty to mitigate (lessen) the damage that the landlord would suffer as a result of the abandonment. Therefore, the landlord should not leave the premises empty in the hope of recovering the tenant’s lost rents. The tenant cannot waive this duty to mitigate damages, so any provision in the lease that attempts to waive this duty or exempt the landlord from liability is void.
II. Security deposit
A security deposit is any advance of money, other than a rental application deposit or advance rental payment, that is primarily intended to ensure compliance with a lease.
III. Withholding of security deposit
Before returning the security deposit, the landlord may deduct from the deposit any damages or charges for which the tenant is liable under the lease or resulting from a breach of the lease. However, normal wear and tear (does not include deterioration resulting from neglect, carelessness, accident, or abuse) cannot be withheld from the security deposit.
If the landlord withholds any part of the security deposit, the landlord must refund the balance of the security deposit and provide the tenant with a written description and itemized list of all deductions. However, this detailed listing and description is not necessary if the tenant owes rent and there is no dispute about the amount of rent owed. The refund and written description and itemized list of all deductions are not required until the tenant provides the landlord with a written statement from the tenant’s forwarding address for the purpose of refunding the security deposit. However, failure to provide a forwarding address does not cause the tenant to lose their right to a refund or a description of deductions.
IV. Refund of security deposit
The landlord must refund the security deposit no later than 60 days after the date the tenant delivers the premises and notifies the tenant’s forwarding address.
V. Change of owner / owner and security deposit
The new owner or lessor of the leased premises is responsible for the return of the security deposit from the date the title to the leased premises is acquired, except when the new owner acquired the premises through foreclosure through a real estate mortgage. However, the former owner or landlord remains responsible for the security deposit received while the person was the owner or owner until the new owner provides the tenant with a signed statement acknowledging that the new owner has received and is responsible for the security deposit of the tenant and specifying the exact dollar amount of the deposit.
SAW. Owner’s responsibility for the security deposit
A landlord who in bad faith withholds a security deposit is liable for an amount equal to the sum of $ 100, three times the portion of the security deposit improperly withheld, and the tenant’s reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in a lawsuit to recover the deposit. . A landlord who fails to return a security deposit or does not provide a written description and itemized list of deductions on or before the 60th day after the tenant surrenders possession is presumed to be acting in bad faith.
VII. Prevent access to rented facilities
A landlord may not intentionally prevent a tenant from entering the leased premises, except with the permission of the court, unless such prevention results from (i) good faith repairs, construction or an emergency, (ii) removal of the contents of the leased premises abandoned by a tenant or (iii) changing the door locks of a tenant who does not pay at least part of the rent. The lease may alter this provision.
VIII. Lock change due to late payments
If a landlord changes the door lock due to late rent payments, the landlord must post a written notice on the tenant’s front door stating the name and address or phone number of the person or company from whom it is you can get the new key. The new key should only be provided during the tenant’s regular business hours and only if the tenant pays the back rent. The lease may alter this provision.
IX. Removal of the property by the landlord after abandonment by the tenant
A landlord can remove and store any tenant property that remains after the property has been abandoned. The owner may also dispose of the stored property if the tenant does not claim the property within 60 days of the date the property was stored. The landlord must deliver by certified mail to the tenant at the tenant’s last known address a notice stating that the landlord may dispose of the tenant’s property if the tenant does not claim the property within 60 days of the date it is stored the property. A lease agreement can alter this provision.
X. Abandonment by the tenant
A tenant is presumed to have left the premises if property, equipment or other property, in an amount substantial enough to indicate a probable intention to leave the premises, are being or have been removed from the premises and the removal is not within of the normal course. of the tenant’s business. The lease may alter this provision.
XI. Utility interruption
If the tenant pays for utilities directly to the utilities, the landlord cannot interrupt or cause the interruption of such services unless the interruption is the result of good faith repairs, construction, or an emergency. A lease agreement can alter this provision.
XII. Removal of doors, windows, locks, hinges, etc.
A landlord may not remove a door, window, attic hatch, lock, hinge, hinge pin, doorknob, or other mechanism connected to a door, window, or attic hatch cover of the leased premises. Also, a landlord cannot remove furniture, fixtures, or appliances provided by the landlord from the leased premises. However, the landlord may recall these items for a bona fide repair or replacement, which must be done immediately. A lease agreement can alter this provision.
XIII. The landlord may terminate the lease due to public indecency Tenant conviction
A landlord may terminate a lease signed or renewed after June 15, 1981 if the tenant or occupant uses the property for an activity for which the tenant, occupant, or any of their agents or employees is found guilty of public indecency ( prostitution, promotion of prostitution, exhibition or distribution of obscene materials, sexual acts with persons under 18 years of age, etc.) and that person has exhausted or abandoned all avenues of direct appeal of the conviction. Notice of termination must be made by written notice within six months after the right of termination appears. The landlord obtains the right to own the property on the 10th day after the date of notification.
XIV. Notification requirement before eviction
The landlord must give the tenant who defaults or withholds beyond the end of the term a written notice of at least three days to vacate the premises before the landlord files a lawsuit for forced retention, unless the parties have contracted for a shorter or longer period of time in a written lease or contract.
The eviction notice must be given in person or by mail at the premises in question. If the notice is delivered in person, it can be by personal delivery to the tenant or any person residing in the premises who is 16 years of age or older or by personal delivery to the premises and pasting the notice inside the main entrance door . Notification by mail can be by ordinary mail, by certified mail or by certified mail, with acknowledgment of receipt requested, to the facilities in question. The notice period begins on the day the notice is delivered.
Copyright 2005, Tri Nguyen