What You Don’t Know About Rent Hikes Can Cost You
Texas, like most states, doesn’t have rent control laws. That means that there aren’t any statewide statutes that limit or prevent rent hikes. Still, it doesn’t mean that landlords can spring a rent increase on you at any point. There are some rules, and knowing what those are can save you a lot of money and stress if you’re a Texas renter.
When Can My Landlord Raise My Rent?
The terms of your lease are key to answering this question because:
- If you have a month-to-month lease, your landlord could increase your rent next month, simply by giving you a written 30-day notice of the rent hike.
- If you have a longer-term lease with fixed price terms, you may be “locked in” at a certain rate. In that case, your landlord could only increase your rent when your current lease expires and you’re signing a new lease.
When Are Texas Rent Hikes Illegal?
Any rent increases that violate the terms of a valid lease can be illegal in Texas. So are rent hikes that are:
- Discriminatory: Landlords can’t raise rent for some tenants and not others based on ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, age, or another protected classes. Discriminatory rent hikes are against the law in Texas.
- Retaliatory: Landlords are also prohibited from raising rents as a way to punish tenants who have exercised their rights in some way. For example, it’s illegal to raise the rent on a tenant who has filed a complaint with the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA).
How to Keep Your Rent in Check: 4 Tips
- Ask about potential rent hikes upfront: When was the last time the landlord raised the rent? How often does the rent get raised? What prompts those rent hikes? These are a few key questions to ask landlords upfront, as you’re touring apartments.
- Negotiate: Rent is NOT always a fixed price, and there may be room to haggle, especially if the landlord has several vacancies and/or you’re renting in the off season. So, try to negotiate the best deal you can. Would the landlord be open to lowering the monthly rent if you sign a longer lease? Or can you get the landlord to include utilities or appliance upgrades in the price? You may be able to work out a much better deal for yourself simply by asking some questions and shopping around.
- Read the lease before you sign it: Pay special attention to the terms about rent price, the deposit, and rent increases. Once you sign the lease, you’re agreeing to the terms, and you don’t want to get locked into a deal that could harpoon you with endless rent hikes in the near future.
- Clarify what happens with the deposit: Will the landlord keep your deposit if you don’t end up signing the lease? What portion of the deposit can you expect to be returned after you move out? Remember, landlords can keep your deposit if you don’t sign the lease, if you violate the terms of the lease, or if you leave an apartment damaged (meaning damage beyond standard wear and tear).
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