Know Your Rights As A Tenant In Texas

"El Show Sin Fronteras"

Spanish Video Above Translated In English Below

Today's Show

Our usual hosts, Karla Arévalo, and Fidel Campuzano were joined by a very special guest, talking about tenants' rights. We know that many in the immigrant community find themselves in need of renting a place to live since they do not yet have a home of their own.

For this reason, we wanted to let you know what you are entitled to as a tenant, regardless of whether you are undocumented and in your native language. Mincho, our guest today, is part of BASTA, an organization that works with tenants in different places helping them to form Tenants Associations so that they can defend their rights with respect to repairs and any other type of housing rights.

Notice Of Proposed Eviction

According to what our guest shared with us, in Travis County in Austin, TX tenants are protected from eviction by stronger policies than in the rest of the state or even the country.

In the event that a person is unable to pay their rent on the agreed date and according to Texas law, the landlord has the right to evict tenants from the first day of late payment and is empowered to decide whether to receive the late payment or not.

This eviction process begins with a document called a "Notice to Vacate" which states the reasons for the eviction and the time the tenant has to move out.

The time the tenant has to vacate varies from 1 to 3 days depending on the type of lease that exists, however legally the tenant is not obligated to vacate after 3 days.

When that happens the landlord can go to a Court to file a lawsuit against the tenant where after a few weeks he will get a citation for a hearing, and then another week will have to pass before it is possible to issue an Eviction Order.

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Tenants Have Protection Against Eviction

Recently a new law was passed to the City Council that gives the possibility to rectify your lease.

The landlord could make use of a document called a "Notice of Proposed Eviction" which states that the tenant has 60 days to catch up on the rent owed.

Mincho advises the immigrant community not to worry if they receive a Notice of Eviction as there is still time after receipt, and to initially contact a legal professional to verify that the Notice was legal.

In case you or someone you know is in a similar situation, where your economic capacity has been exceeded by your expenses, here at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law we have bankruptcy attorneys who can advise you on how to rebuild your economy.

Tenants' Rights

You can find much more information on the BASTA website.

The most important thing for you as a tenant to remember is that a landlord by his own discretion cannot evict a person, regardless of whether they are undocumented or not and regardless of the reasons for the eviction, by bypassing the legal process for eviction.

The CARES Act is a very important law that was passed last year. Among its benefits were economic incentives for many tenants as well as protection from eviction.

This protection was agreed upon for people whose mortgage is backed by the Federal Government, since in the "Notice to Vacate" the landlord must give a time limit of 30 days, as opposed to the usual 3 days maximum. There are still many properties that qualify for this benefit.

The current regulations in the state of Texas are not very favorable to tenants. In the event that there is an incident with the property and the tenant is not in good standing, the landlord is not obligated to fulfill their end of the lease by making the necessary repairs.

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Landlords Must Fulfill Their Part Of The Contract

On the other hand, if the tenant is up to date with payments, but the landlord does not fulfill their obligations, it is necessary to notify the landlord in writing about the damage.

It is possible to deliver it in person or by Certified Mail, which requires the person to sign a receipt for the document.

After 7 days, if the problem has not been resolved, the tenant can send another request about the needed fix to the landlord.

If the situation does not change, there may be grounds for legal action.

Another option is to call 311 with a complaint about the incident.

They will send an inspector and if there is anything illegal, the landlord may be fined, among other things, to ensure that the landlord complies and must take care of the repairs.

Q&A Session

Whenever we have guests our viewers are welcome to ask their questions to be answered live. Fidel read us one of them:

"Hello, what can I do if those who rent to me abuse me both physically and psychologically because I don't have papers?"

According to Mincho, the best thing to do in this case would be to contact a lawyer, especially since it is something that involves physical violence.

There are several organizations that provide legal advice to low-income people across the country. Here at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law after a 10-minute consultation, you will know the different options you have regarding your particular case, and completely free of charge.

Mincho advised the entire immigrant community to document any changes to the rent, whether it is a change in the monthly value or an agreement with the landlord. It is always legally more convenient to have everything in writing and with the signatures of both parties.

In Texas, the tenant has the right to record any conversation they have. Also, Mincho suggested saving text messages, chats, emails, receipts, etc.

One of our viewers via YouTube sent us the following inquiry:

"Hi. I'm a new landlord (American) and would like to rent to an undocumented family but I'm worried that I might get in trouble with the government if I do. Will I get in trouble if I do?"

It is similar to any economic transaction that an undocumented person may complete. For undocumented people, it is possible to go to restaurants, buy cars, for example. Additionally, the owner is free to accept whatever type of documentation they want.

Fidel shared with us another question received on the air:

"Hello, good afternoon, I love your program! I already informed the administrator of noisy neighbors and they don't pay attention. I received threats and the administration does nothing. I have a minor in my apartment, can I just leave, or do I have to do something before I leave?"

According to Mincho, it is important to review the terms of the lease to know how to proceed in such cases, as well as to get advice from a lawyer. The lawyer in charge of similar cases would be a housing attorney.

In case you have additional questions about tenants' rights, or require information about our guest and his work, please do not hesitate to call us at (855) 502-0555. You can contact us for a free 10-minute consultation and we will discuss your options with you. You can also stay up to date with our latest updates by following us on our social networks Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.