Texas updated its rent payment laws in 2019, extending the statewide grace period to two days and placing a cap on how much a landlord can reasonably charge for late fees. The state also regulates other aspects of paying rent—such as acceptable payment methods and when rent increases are legal.
Tenants can pay rent in cash—unless the lease says otherwise
Unless the lease states differently, landlords in Texas are required to accept cash payments for rent. They're also required to provide the tenant with a written receipt if they pay rent in cash.1
Texas renters have a two-day grace period for late rent
Texas law establishes a statewide grace period for renters, but it’s not long—just two days. A landlord can start charging late fees two full days after the date rent was originally due.2 So, assuming rent is due on the first of the month, a late fee cannot be charged until the fourth. This law is relatively new, meaning it only applies to leases entered into or renewed on or after Sept. 1st, 2019. Previously, the grace period was only one day.
Landlords can charge a late fee, but it must be reasonable
Late fees are legal in Texas, but only if they are written into the lease. Also, the fee can’t be unreasonably high. Under state law, a late fee is considered reasonable if it’s either:3
- 12% of the monthly rent in a building with four or less units
- 10% of the monthly rent in a building with more than four units
That said, a late fee that exceeds the percentages above could still be considered reasonable—as long as it’s equal to the landlord’s costs related to the late payment of rent (such as bank fees). Landlords are allowed to charge both an initial fee and a daily fee for each day that rent remains unpaid, but the total amount charged should still be within the allowed percentage.
A tenant may request that the landlord provide a written statement of whether a late fee is due and if so, the amount owed (although if the landlord doesn’t follow through, the tenant still owes the money).4
Landlords can’t raise rent in response to certain tenant activities
Like many states, Texas law protects a tenant’s ability to:5
- Notify the landlord in writing of necessary repairs to the rental property
- File a complaint with the housing authorities
- Complain about building or housing code violations
- Establish or participate in a tenant organization
- Exercise their rights under the lease and local, state, and federal laws
If a tenant takes one or more of the actions listed above, it's illegal for a landlord to retaliate by raising rent for a period of six months. That said, a landlord can still raise the rent during these six months in one of three situations:6
- The landlord can prove that the increase was done for non-retaliatory reasons
- The rent increased for an entire multi-dwelling project (i.e. the landlord raises the rent for all units in an apartment complex)
- The rent was increased because of an escalation clause written into the lease
Three-day notice required before evicting for nonpayment of rent
Before beginning the eviction process because of a tenant’s failure to pay rent, a landlord must provide three days’ notice (unless the lease provides for a shorter or longer period). Notice may be given in person or by regular, certified or registered mail.7
There are no limits on rent increases and no required notice
Unlike most other states, landlords in Texas are not required to give advance notice before they raise the rent. (Of course, rent increases can only happen at the end of a lease term—so tenants can decide not to renew their lease if there's an unexpected rent hike.)
In addition, Texas does not have any rent control laws. That means there's no legal limit on how much a landlord can raise the rent after a lease term is up.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.
Can’t find your question?
Have a specific question that's not answered in one of our Learn articles? Submit it here and we might be able to create a new article.