Landlord/tenant issues can be complex and frustrating to students. While most Denton County landlords provide affordable housing and good living conditions, there are times when students run into problems with their living arrangements and need expert help to understand their rights under both the Texas Property Code and their lease contracts.
Below are the most frequent reasons that students visit our office for legal advice.
Landlords are obligated to refund security deposits or provide an accounting within 30 days from the time a tenant vacates the property, unless the tenant owed rent or failed to provide written notice of forwarding address. Landlords may not deduct from the security deposit for normal wear and tear.
Always read the move-out instructions before leaving the rented premises, and take pictures of the empty premises in case of a dispute over charges.
Frequent calls to a property manager may not bring results quickly enough. Calling the office does not trigger the legal obligations of the landlord to repair under the property code and most lease contracts. If your problem does not get the immediate attention you believe it should, read your lease to find out what the landlord requires. If you need help with this, please see one of the lawyers here at SLS.
Always call the landlord/property manager if you have a serious situation with flooding, fire, or other disasters that compromise your personal safety and/or the safety of the property.
There is a process a landlord must follow under Texas law in order to successfully evict a tenant. The formal term for an eviction is "forcible entry and detainer," or FED, and the requirements are outlined in Title 4, Chapter 24 of the Texas Property Code. Any student who receives a Notice to Vacate should call our office and bring the notice with the lease agreement to the SLS office as instructed.
Students often share apartment units with their friends or acquaintances. It's a good opportunity for social interaction and for many, it's a financial necessity. The best roommate is a person you know and trust. You may want to sign a short lease at first to see how things work out. Most leases call for "joint and several responsibility" for the rent. In other words, the landlord doesn't care who pays what, just that 100% of the rent is paid and paid on time. If your roommate leaves in the middle of the lease term, you'll still have to pay the full amount of monthly rent.
You have 3 roommates, but only one name can be on the electric bills, so you volunteer. Now you have to split the bills 4 ways. You have to email or post notes to notify the others each month, providing deadlines which are sometimes forgotten or overlooked. You might end up paying double some months when a roommate is late. But what happens if a roommate leaves? The electric company wants their money, and you're the one on the hook. To avoid this financial hit to your bank account, you may want to sign up for Simple Bills. All roommates pay Simple Bills for utilities, and Simple Bills handles the rest. The benefit is that no one person is responsible for the entire monthly bill. There is a surcharge for using this service, but if you're rooming with strangers, consider it insurance. Learn more at http://simplebills.com.