Many people assume that a landlord cannot increase a tenant's rent during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we have not been able to locate any statewide laws that would prohibit a landlord from raising the rent when a lease has ended and is being renewed. We are not aware of any COVID-19 related protections for tenants that would prevent rent increases at the end of a lease during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the term of the lease, a landlord is not permitted to raise the rent during the lease agreement without the tenant's consent, but we have not found any Texas statutes that restrict a landlord's ability to raise the rent by any amount once the term of the lease is up. However, a landlord cannot raise the rent as an act of retaliation for exercising other protected tenants' rights, according to Chapter 92, Subchapter H of the Texas Property Code:
(a) A landlord may not retaliate against a tenant by taking an action described by Subsection (b) because the tenant:
(1) in good faith exercises or attempts to exercise against a landlord a right or remedy granted to the tenant by lease, municipal ordinance, or federal or state statute;
(2) gives a landlord a notice to repair or exercise a remedy under this chapter;
(3) complains to a governmental entity responsible for enforcing building or housing codes, a public utility, or a civic or nonprofit agency, and the tenant: (A) claims a building or housing code violation or utility problem; and (B) believes in good faith that the complaint is valid and that the violation or problem occurred; or
(4) establishes, attempts to establish, or participates in a tenant organization.
There is a Texas statute that permits local rent control during a disaster which has resulted in a housing crisis with the governor's approval, Texas Property Code Section 214.902. However, we are not aware of any municipality enacting rent control measures under Section 214.902 during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information on rent increases, please see the Rent page of our Landlord/Tenant Law research guide.
Currently the only COVID-19 protection for tenants is the Center for Disease Control's eviction moratorium order, which temporarily suspends eviction proceedings due to unpaid rent during the COVID-19 pandemic. This order is set to expire on June 30th, 2021, but it's possible that it will be extended. For more information about the CDC order, including how it works and who is eligible for protection under the order, please see the Eviction page of the COVID-19 & Texas Law research guide.