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Notice Requirements to End a Lease in Texas

Texas law requires landlords and tenants to provide a certain amount of “notice” to each other, in order to stop a lease from automatically renewing or from continuing.

In Texas, many tenants have a written lease, allowing them to remain in a rental unit for a set period of time (often a year) before the lease terminates. However, some tenants will find themselves in so-called “month-to-month” or “week-to-week” tenancies. In these instances, if either the landlord or tenant wants to end the lease for good, they have to let the other know—usually a month in advance, although it depends on the specific lease agreement.

Written lease terms overrule everything else

If a tenant has a written lease, there’s a good chance that they know exactly when their lease is up: the lease says so. If a lease says it expires on July 31st (for example), then that’s it—past July 31st, the tenant is overstaying the lease. At this point, the landlord is free to begin eviction proceedings against the tenant. The landlord has no special requirement to inform a tenant that their lease is about to expire, because the tenant should know this already, by reference to their lease.

That said, in Texas, leases may contain clauses requiring a tenant to inform a landlord that they are vacating the apartment, even if the lease is up, if the tenant wants their security deposit back. In this case, tenants do need to inform the landlord that their lease is up, even if the lease has a specified end date.

Oral and unconventional leases may not have an end date

Not every lease has a built-in expiration date. Texas law, for example, allows for verbal leases that are never written down—as long as the agreement is for a period of a year or less.1 (A lease that is intended to last for more than a year must be in writing.) These leases might not contain any specified end date, and could be as informal as a landlord saying a friend can stay in their extra room for a while and pay a certain amount every month or two.

Other leases can be thought of as periodic, or “rollover” leases. In these, a tenant occupies a rental unit on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis (or any other period of time you can dream up—every 12 days would be legal, for example, if a bit complicated), with no set end date. In these cases, the lease automatically renews after each payment period. Neither the landlord nor the tenant needs to take any action for the lease to renew. Lease arrangements like this give both landlords and tenants flexibility, and feature less of a legal commitment.

Periodic tenancies can be created accidentally

While some periodic tenancies can be created by landlords and tenants specifically, others, called “holdover” tenancies, can be created without any explicit agreement. This happens when a tenant stays in a rental unit after their fixed lease is up—the tenant “holds over” in the rental unit. If the landlord continues to accept rent, a periodic tenancy is established.2 The lease will automatically continue to renew every rent period. For example, if a tenant pays rent monthly, the lease will continue to automatically renew on a monthly basis, and ending the lease requires adhering to the notice rules detailed below.

Advance notice is required to legally end periodic leases

Texas law requires both landlords and tenants to explicitly inform the other when they want a lease to stop automatically renewing. Only once this notice is provided will the lease end. A landlord who fails to provide notice may not evict a tenant. A tenant who fails to provide notice must keep paying rent, even if they move out.

How much notice depends on how often a tenant pays rent:

  • For leases that renew monthly—in other words, a month-to-month lease—or at intervals longer than monthly, landlords and tenants must provide at least one month’s notice to end the lease for good.4
  • For leases that renew weekly, landlords and tenants must provide at least an amount of notice equivalent to a rent term.4 For example, if a tenant pays rent every ten days, then at least ten days’ notice must be given.

All of these notices must be in writing—they can be mailed to the party receiving notice, or given to them directly, but they cannot be verbal or sent by text or email.3

Periodic leases can end in the middle of the payment period

Under Texas law, the termination date can fall in the middle of a payment period and rent will be prorated.4 For example, if a tenant has a month-to-month lease and wants to leave September 15th, they should notify their landlord by August 16th at the latest. Then, they’re only required to pay rent up to the date of termination. In this example, the tenant would pay half a months’ rent for September.

[1] Stovall & Associates, P.C. v. Hibbs Financial Center, Ltd., Court of Appeals of Texas, Dallas, 2013

[2] Carrasco v. Stewart, Court of Appeals of Texas, El Paso, 2006

[3] Struve v. Park Place Apartments, Court of Appeals of Texas, Tyler, 1995

[4] Texas Property Code, Title 8, Section 91.001

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