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Legal Information: Texas

Statutes: Texas

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Updated: 
November 4, 2020

92.0161. Right to Vacate and Avoid Liability Following Certain Sex Offenses or Stalking

(a) In this section, “occupant” has the meaning assigned by Section 92.016.

(b) A tenant may terminate the tenant’s rights and obligations under a lease and may vacate the dwelling and avoid liability for future rent and any other sums due under the lease for terminating the lease and vacating the dwelling before the end of the lease term after the tenant complies with Subsection (c) or (c-1).

(c) If the tenant is a victim or a parent or guardian of a victim of sexual assault under Section 22.011, Penal Code, aggravated sexual assault under Section 22.021, Penal Code, indecency with a child under Section 21.11, Penal Code, sexual performance by a child under Section 43.25, Penal Code, continuous sexual abuse of a child under Section 21.02, Penal Code, or an attempt to commit any of the foregoing offenses under Section 15.01, Penal Code, that takes place during the preceding six-month period on the premises or at any dwelling on the premises, the tenant shall provide to the landlord or the landlord’s agent a copy of:

(1) documentation of the assault or abuse, or attempted assault or abuse, of the victim from a licensed health care services provider who examined the victim;

(2) documentation of the assault or abuse, or attempted assault or abuse, of the victim from a licensed mental health services provider who examined or evaluated the victim;

(3) documentation of the assault or abuse, or attempted assault or abuse, of the victim from an individual authorized under Chapter 420, Government Code, who provided services to the victim; or

(4) documentation of a protective order issued under Chapter 7A, Code of Criminal Procedure, except for a temporary ex parte order.

(c-1) If the tenant is a victim or a parent or guardian of a victim of stalking under Section 42.072, Penal Code, that takes place during the preceding six-month period on the premises or at any dwelling on the premises, the tenant shall provide to the landlord or the landlord’s agent a copy of:

(1) documentation of a protective order issued under Chapter 7A or Article 6.09, Code of Criminal Procedure, except for a temporary ex parte order; or

(2) documentation of the stalking from a provider of services described by Subsection (c)(1), (2), or (3) and:

(A) a law enforcement incident report or, if a law enforcement incident report is unavailable, another record maintained in the ordinary course of business by a law enforcement agency; and

(B) if the report or record described by Paragraph (A) identifies the victim by means of a pseudonym, as defined by Article 57A.01, Code of Criminal Procedure, a copy of a pseudonym form completed and returned under Article 57A.02 of that code.

(d) A tenant may exercise the rights to terminate the lease under Subsection (b), vacate the dwelling before the end of the lease term, and avoid liability beginning on the date after all of the following events have occurred:

(1) the tenant provides a copy of the relevant documentation described by Subsection (c) or (c-1) to the landlord;

(2) the tenant provides written notice of termination of the lease to the landlord on or before the 30th day before the date the lease terminates;

(3) the 30th day after the date the tenant provided notice under Subdivision (2) expires; and

(4) the tenant vacates the dwelling.

(e) Except as provided by Subsection (g), this section does not affect a tenant’s liability for delinquent, unpaid rent or other sums owed to the landlord before the lease was terminated by the tenant under this section.

(f) A landlord who violates this section is liable to the tenant for actual damages, a civil penalty equal to the amount of one month’s rent plus $500, and attorney’s fees.

(g) A tenant who terminates a lease under Subsection (b) is released from all liability for any delinquent, unpaid rent owed to the landlord by the tenant on the effective date of the lease termination if the lease does not contain language substantially equivalent to the following:

“Tenants may have special statutory rights to terminate the lease early in certain situations involving certain sexual offenses or stalking.”

(h) A tenant may not waive a tenant’s right to terminate a lease before the end of the lease term, vacate the dwelling, and avoid liability under this chapter.

(i) For purposes of Subsections (c) and (c-1), a tenant who is a parent or guardian of a victim described by those subsections must reside with the victim to exercise the rights established by this section.

(j) A person who receives information under Subsection (c), (c-1), or (d) may not disclose the information to any other person except for a legitimate or customary business purpose or as otherwise required by law.