In some states, tenants are allowed to withhold some or all of their rent until their landlord makes major repairs. That is not the case in Texas, where withholding rent is illegal1 and will likely result in eviction for the tenant.
Rent withholding is illegal in Texas
State law is very clear that tenants are not allowed to withhold rent to force a landlord to make repairs, even if the issue is major and falls under the implied warranty of habitability or the agreed-upon lease terms. Instead, tenants in Texas have three options2 if their landlord won’t make repairs:
- Sue their landlord to force them to make repairs
- Make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent
- Terminate the lease
Landlords may recover a penalty of one month's rent plus $500
If a tenant withholds rent, a landlord should notify them in writing that rent withholding is illegal and that the penalty for withholding rent is one month's rent plus an additional $500.3
If the landlord sends a notice to the tenant and they continue to withhold rent, then the landlord can take them to court and recover the unpaid rent (plus the penalty described above). However, the landlord has the burden of proving in court that the tenant withheld rent in bad faith and that they were clearly notified of the fact that withholding rent is illegal under Texas law.4
Although tenants are not allowed to withhold rent in Texas, they can still pay for the repair themselves and deduct the cost from their rent. Or, if the issue is really serious, they could consider constructive eviction.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.
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