Top 5 Things a New Renter Should Always Do

  1. BEFORE SIGNING A LEASE – Never sign a lease or give the landlord a security deposit before actually performing a walk-thru of the dwelling with a property agent and a witness (a friend over 18 years of age). Take notes and pictures during the walk-thru!
  2. BEFORE MOVING IN – If the dwelling needs repair work or is dirty, ask the property agent to give you a written promise to complete the work before your move-in date or by a mutually agreed upon deadline. Every Texas tenant has a right to a safe, decent and sanitary dwelling!
  3. PAY RENT ON TIME – In Texas, if you are one dollar short and / or late on your rent you may be asked to leave your dwelling within three (3) days, sometimes a lease demands that you leave in twenty four (24) hours. This is called a "notice to vacate" and it is perfectly legal. NOTE: a notice to vacate is not an eviction (see our Eviction Fact Sheet). You are not required to leave but if you choose to stay, an eviction filing against you will most certainly be filed in the Justice of the Peace court. Lesson: Always pay your rent on time, in full and get a receipt.
  4. PUT IT IN WRITING – Anything you ask your landlord to do; E.g. make a repair, give you a copy of your lease, etc., always do it in writing and keep a copy for yourself. To protect your rights, you must be able to prove that you gave your landlord proper notice of your request. Proper notice is a physical letter delivered to the landlord by certified mail or with a witness who is over 18 years of age.
  5. ANSWER ALL NOTICES – If the landlord gives you a notice, answer it in writing. This is especially important if you get a notice to vacate, a notice of lease violation or a notice of money owed. Write a brief letter back to your landlord explaining that you received the notice and what your position is on the issue. Again, to protect your rights, you must be able to prove that you answered your landlord's notice, so deliver your letter to the landlord by certified mail or with a witness who is over 18 years of age and keep a copy.
  6. BEFORE MOVING OUT – Clean your dwelling with a witness who is over 18 years of age and document the cleaning process by taking pictures, keeping cleaning receipts, etc. You will absolutely need this documentation to make the case that you should be refunded your full security deposit.
  7. The information in this brochure is a summary of the subject and other pertinent matters. It should not be considered conclusive or a substitute for legal advice. Unique facts can render broad statements inapplicable. Anyone needing legal assistance should contact an attorney.

 

Austin Tenants’ Council • 1640-B East 2nd Street • Austin, TX 78702 • 512.474.7006