According to Texas law, Houston landlords and property owners must provide their tenants with safe and habitable living spaces. 

New Landlord Stresses over Property Management Mistakes

However, even with the best intentions, disputes between landlords and tenants can arise that may lead to legal action. 


Knowing how to handle these situations is essential to avoid legal trouble as a landlord or property owner. 


Let’s explore when tenants can sue their landlords, helping property owners and landlords protect their investments and maintain a harmonious landlord-tenant relationship.


Understanding Landlord-Tenant Laws

Note: Always consult a qualified lawyer for guidance on your specific situation.

Landlords and property owners must thoroughly understand state and local laws that govern their rental properties. 


In Texas, landlords must provide their tenants with safe and habitable living spaces, including ensuring that the property is structurally sound and free of health or safety hazards. Landlords must also comply with building codes and make necessary repairs promptly.


Also, landlords must follow proper procedures regarding security deposits, evictions, and providing notice to tenants before entering the rental property. Understanding these laws is essential to avoid legal issues and protect the landlord’s investment.


Common Legal Issues Between Landlords and Tenants

Houston landlords should be aware that Texas does allow tenants to sue the landlord for violating their rights. The most common legal claims against landlords include:

Breach of Lease Agreement

One of the most common reasons tenants sue their landlords is a breach of the lease agreement. Lease agreements are legally binding contracts that outline the terms and conditions of the tenancy. 


When landlords fail to uphold their end of the agreement, tenants have the right to take legal action. Some common breaches include:

a. Failure to make necessary repairs and maintenance.
b. Entering the rental property without proper notice.
c. Unlawful eviction or improper lease termination.


Property owners and landlords should ensure that they fulfill their obligations outlined in the lease agreement, preventing disputes that could lead to legal action.

Unsafe or Uninhabitable Conditions

Tenants have the right to live in a safe and habitable environment. When landlords neglect their duty to maintain the property to minimum housing standards, tenants can sue. Unsafe or uninhabitable conditions can include:

a. Mold infestations.
b. Pest infestations.
c. Structural issues.
d. Lack of heat, water, or electricity.


Property owners must promptly address these issues to prevent legal repercussions and maintain the property’s value.

Discrimination and Fair Housing Violations

Landlords are prohibited from discriminating against tenants based on protected characteristics such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and familial status. If tenants believe they have been discriminated against, they can file a complaint and sue their landlords for violating fair housing laws.


Property owners and landlords must familiarize themselves with fair housing laws to avoid unintentional violations and potential legal action.

Retaliation Against Tenants 

Landlords cannot retaliate against tenants who exercise their legal rights, such as reporting code violations, requesting necessary repairs, or forming tenant associations. Retaliation can take various forms, including eviction, rent increases, or harassment.


To avoid legal disputes, property owners should respect their tenants’ rights and not engage in any retaliatory actions.

Security Deposit Disputes

Security deposits are often a source of conflict between landlords and tenants. When tenants believe they are not receiving their deposit back per the law, they may sue their landlords. 


Property owners must follow state laws regarding security deposits and provide tenants with an itemized list of deductions and refunds as required.

Failure to Provide Notice

Landlords typically need to provide proper notice to tenants before entering the rental property, terminating the lease, or making significant changes. Failure to do so can lead to legal action. Property owners need to understand the notice requirements in their jurisdiction to avoid potential legal issues.


How to Avoid Legal Trouble as a Landlord in Houston

Preparation is critical to avoiding and managing lawsuits. Here are some steps landlords can take:

  • Understand the law: Familiarize yourself with federal, state, and local laws regarding landlord-tenant relationships.
  • Maintain records: Keep meticulous records of all tenant interactions, including payment receipts, emails, and repair requests.
  • Get insured: Liability insurance can help cover legal expenses if a tenant sues. 
  • Seek legal counsel: If you need clarification on a tenant’s legal rights or the proper procedures for handling disputes, consult a lawyer.
  • Communicate effectively: Good communication is crucial in maintaining a positive landlord-tenant relationship and avoiding misunderstandings that can lead to lawsuits.
  • Hire a property manager: Consider hiring a professional property manager to handle all aspects of your rental property, including tenant disputes and legal issues.


By understanding and following landlord-tenant laws, property owners and landlords can protect their investments and avoid costly legal battles. 


The Importance of Property Management Companies in Avoiding Legal Trouble


Hiring a property management company can be another effective strategy to avoid legal issues as a landlord. These companies are experienced in dealing with landlord-tenant laws and property maintenance, acting as an intermediary between the tenant and the landlord. With their expertise, they help ensure that landlords comply with all local and state laws.

  • Legal Knowledge: Property management companies are well-versed in local and state landlord-tenant laws, helping to ensure that landlords do not inadvertently violate any laws that could lead to tenant lawsuits.
  • Maintenance and Repairs: These companies handle maintenance requests and repairs promptly, ensuring the rental property remains habitable and reducing the potential for disputes over uninhabitable conditions.
  • Tenant Communication and Relations: They maintain open lines of communication between landlords and tenants, addressing any issues promptly and professionally. This can help to prevent misunderstandings that could result in legal action.
  • Handling of Security Deposits and Evictions: Property management companies know the legal protocols for security deposit handling, notice requirements, and evictions, helping landlords avoid legal pitfalls.
  • Record Keeping: They maintain meticulous records of all transactions and communications, which can provide critical evidence in a legal dispute.


By hiring a property management company, landlords can protect their investments and ensure they are operating within the confines of the law, significantly reducing the chance of legal issues arising.


Why Choose Residential Leasing & Management Corp?

Being a landlord doesn’t have to be a legal minefield. 


At Residential Leasing & Management Corp, we understand the challenges landlords face. Our team of experienced Houston property managers can help you navigate the complexities of landlord-tenant laws, manage tenant relationships, and maintain your property to a high standard.


With our comprehensive property management solutions, you can focus on what matters most – enjoying the benefits of your investment without the stress of day-to-day management.


Don’t let the fear of lawsuits keep you up at night. Choose Residential Leasing & Management Corp for peace of mind and professional service


Contact us today, and let’s discuss how we can effectively manage your property and minimize the risk of legal troubles.