Finding a Home in Texas

Texas has long been recognized as a desirable state to start a business or raise a family. Recently, Business Insider released its annual list of “The 50 Best Places to Live in America for 2018,” and it’s no surprise to see Houston (26), Dallas-Fort Worth (18), San Antonio (14), and Austin (1) representing the Lone Star State. With continual praise and recognition, more people may be looking to call Texas home in 2018. These new settlors, renters and purchasers alike, should know their rights when making their home purchase decision.

Choosing a New Home

When selecting a new house or apartment it is wise to take preemptive measures to ensure the transaction is smooth and without unnecessary inconveniences. Many disputes can be avoided long before the agreement is made, or deposit is paid. Simple actions, such as a diligent inspection of the property and making notes with a pen and paper will quickly identify the quality and condition of the property to be rented. It should be noted, the exact property that is part of the transaction, and not a model or show property, should be the focus point of the inspection. 

During the property inspection, the supporting areas and amenities should also be considered. A review of the common areas, including laundry rooms, parking spaces, pools and exercise facilities should also be noted and disclosed to avoid later disputes. Once the investigation of the property is completed, the landlord or property owner should receive the list of the notes, so maintenance and repairs can be made. Purchasers and renters should keep a copy of this list for their personal records should a dispute arise.

Signing the Lease

The rental agreement, or lease, is of paramount importance. This document sets forth the expectations, rights and duties of the purchaser, the landlord and the property. Here, key provisions concerning the lease are provided, such as how the landlord may evict a tenant or hold a tenant liable for future payments and other damages; or when the lease can be terminated and allow the tenant to leave the lease early. 

Still, many purchasers do not review the lease before signing and entering into the agreement. Many landlords claim the agreements are “standard” or cannot be modified, but this is not always true. Purchasers should read, review, and fully understand the agreement before signing. The terms and conditions of the agreement can be modified, so long as the landlord agrees to the modification. When modifying the agreement, make the changes to the document in ink, and include the date and signed initials of both the landlord and purchaser near the modification. Once the agreement is finalized, signed and dated, both the purchaser and landlord should maintain a copy for their records, should a later dispute arise. Furthermore, Texas law requires landlords to provide residential tenants with a copy of the lease within three-days of signing. Should the landlord fail to deliver a copy of the lease within these three-days, the landlord will forfeit her rights to otherwise enforce the lease, except in the event of non-payment by the tenant. 

Moving into a New Home

When moving into a new home, purchasers and tenants alike should make sure all developments, renovations and repairs have been completed. Should one of these projects be incomplete at the time of move in, the landlord or workman may be liable for violating Texas Deceptive Trade Practices – Consumer Protection Act. For apartment renters, noting the condition of the property and disclosing this information to the landlord, as soon as possible, is a great way to avoid future disputes and have defects removed. 

Landlords in Texas owe their tenants a few duties concerning the property’s habitability. This means the property is sourced with drinkable and hot water; heat during cold weather and cool air during hot weather; working electricity; working bathroom and toilet; a sanitary area, including free of insects and rodent infestation; and free of violations of building codes. Additionally, Texas landlords have the duty to test and verify all smoke detectors are in working order, and the duty to rekey the locks between tenants.  

As cities in the Lone Star State continue rank among the nation’s best, more people and businesses are likely to relocate and call Texas home. These new settlors should be aware of their rights as purchasers and tenants, to ensure their transition is easy and enjoyable.

The information contained in this post is for general information and educational purposes only. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. Given the changing nature of laws, rules and regulations, and the inherent hazards of electronic communication, there may be delays, omissions or inaccuracies in information contained in this publication. Accordingly, the information on this post is provided with the understanding that the author and publishers are not herein engaged in rendering legal, accounting, tax, or other professional advice and services. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting, tax, legal or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional.

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