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Texas Tenants’ Right to “Repair and Deduct”

When a landlord fails to maintain property being rented to a tenant, but cannot be held liable because of a lack of clearly defined laws concerning the issue at hand, it is easy to feel like you’re out of options. For example, mold found in living spaces can affect tenant health and property habitability; however, there is no federal law that clearly outlines the landlord’s responsibility in eradicating mold problems. Fortunately, the state of Texas has a “repair and deduct” clause in the Property Code that is meant to protect tenant rights when a landlord is neglecting maintenance. If your landlord is not fixing a dangerous or unpleasant condition on the premises, the legal team at Gagnon, Peacock & Vereeke, P.C., may be able to advocate on your behalf.

Simply stated, the right to “repair and deduct” means that in the event that a landlord is neglectful, Texas tenants can fix hazardous conditions themselves (or contract a repairman to remedy the problem) and subsequently deduct the cost of the repair from their monthly rent. This is justified because tenants are legally entitled to rental property that meets basic safety standards.

Terms of “Repair and Deduct”

There are certain conditions pertaining to the “repair and deduct” clause, including:

  •  Repairs must not exceed first month’s rent or $500, whichever is greater
  •  The tenant has given the landlord written notice of their intent to repair the damages and deduct the cost from  their rent
  •  The landlord has not absolved themselves from said duty in the lease

Above are just a few of the conditions that must be met to exercise the right to “repair and deduct” and the law itself is complicated. In some cases, landlords do not honor the clause and continue to ask for the full-rent amount; however, if a city code inspector provides written notice of the health and safety hazards a condition exposes and the landlord continues to be negligent, the tenant’s right to “repair and deduct” is strengthened.

Contact a Tenant Dispute Lawyer

The right to “repair and deduct” is specific to Texas tenants and can be difficult to understand. If you are experiencing a situation in which a negligent landlord will not fix unsafe living conditions or engages in landlord retaliation, contact the legal team at Gagnon, Peacock & Vereeke, P.C., in Plano at (214) 824-1414 to discuss your options and receive support.