Know the Laws: Texas
UPDATED July 20, 2016
In Texas, a victim of family violence can terminate his/her lease early without penalty. If the victim is an occupant in the home, and not the tenant on the lease, the tenant may still be able to terminate the lease early. Below we have some basic information about this housing law.
If you (the tenant) are a victim of family violence (as defined by law), or if an occupant in your home is a victim of family violence, you may be eligible to terminate your lease without penalty. Note: The occupant must be living in your home with the landlord's consent.* To terminate your lease, you must meet all of the following criteria:
If the abuser is a co-tenant or occupant of your residence, you do not have to give the landlord 30 days advanced notice of your lease termination. Instead, you can terminate your lease by completing all of the following steps:
* Tex. Property Code § 92.016(a)(2)
** Tex. Property Code § 92.016(b),(c)
*** Tex. Property Code § 92.016(c-1)
Most likely, yes. Even if you terminate your lease, you will still have to pay the landlord any unpaid rent or other money that you already owed to the landlord before the lease was terminated, including rent for the month that you will be living there after you give the 30 days notice of termination. You will not have to pay rent for the months that would have been left on the lease after you leave the apartment or dwelling, assuming that you properly followed all of the steps outlined in the prior question.*
However, one thing to note is that according to the law, all leases must have language that says something like this: "Tenants may have special statutory rights to terminate the lease early in certain situations involving family violence or a military deployment or transfer." If your lease does not have language like that, then the law states that you are not even responsible for any unpaid rent that you owed to your landlord before you ended your lease.**
If you are unsure whether or not you owe rent, you may want to talk to a lawyer who is familiar with these laws. Go to our TX Finding a Lawyer page for lawyer referrals.
* Tex. Property Code § 92.016(d)
** Tex. Property Code § 92.016(f)