How much can my landlord raise my rent in Texas?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I have been living in my current rental home with a two-year lease. It’s about to expire at the end of the year. I know rental rates in my area have increased. I am wondering if my landlord can increase my rent, and if so, how much?”

Rental rate increases in the State of Texas

Unfortunately, rental rate increases in the State of Texas are something most renters have come to expect, especially in areas of North Texas where the demand for rental units is above the available rental space.

Assuming you are not under a rental contract and you are renting month to month, Texas landlords have the right to increase the rent as high as they want. There are, however, certain Texas rental laws which govern how much notice they must give prior to the rental rate increase.

Specifically, at the term of your lease agreement your landlord must give you 30-day notice in writing that he intends to raise the rent. There are also laws which protect you from rental rate increases which are retaliatory in nature or which are done discriminately against you.

First step after rental rate increase notice

If your landlord has sent you a notice that he intends to increase your rent the first step is to review the terms of your rental agreement. Your lease agreement should clearly state how much you can be charged each month and what your landlord must do to increase the rent.

If you do not have a lease agreement, then state law will determine when and how your landlord can increase your rent. As mentioned above, Texas law requires a 30-day written notice but does not limit the amount of the increase (exceptions might exist in rent-controlled areas or if the house is government-financed housing).

Should you complete a new rental agreement?

If your landlord has given you proper legal notice of the rent increase and you intend to stay in the rental home for another year, it’s probably a good idea to ask for a new lease agreement to secure the rental rate for another year. Continuing to rent on a month to month basis may give the landlord the right to raise the rent periodically throughout the year.

Should I talk to my landlord?

Assuming the rent increase was legal there is not much you can do to fight it. You do have the right, however, to talk to your landlord and plead your case. Have you been an exceptional renter who has gone above and beyond the call of duty? Do you always pay the rent on time or early? Have you kept the yard exceptionally nice?

All of these factors can work in your favor. No landlord wants to raise the rent, lose a good renter, only to have the unit sit vacant for a month or two. A good landlord realizes that a great tenant who does not cause trouble might be worth a few dollars in lost rent each month.

It can also help to do your research and understand rental markets in your area. If your rent is currently several hundred dollars under market you may not have much negotiating power with your landlord.

What if the increase is discriminatory?

Some unscrupulous landlords may use rate increases to force certain tenants from their property. It is illegal, however, for landlords to discriminate against tenants by increasing the rent for certain reasons such as race, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, age, disability or handicap.

Racing your rent in retaliation for actions you have taken may also be illegal. For example, if your landlord attempted to evict you but you fought the eviction, your landlord cannot raise your rent in retaliation for your actions. Keep in mind, if the rate increase is within a specified time from the action your landlord may have the legal obligation to prove their efforts are not retaliatory.

Bottom Line:

The State of Texas give landlords the right to raise rents generally at their discretion, assuming there is not a rental contract in place, rental control laws, or the actions are not discriminatory or retaliatory.

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