Can I withhold rent or deduct repair costs if my landlord is not fixing a problem with my rental?
There are very few situations where Texas law authorizes a residential tenant to deduct costs for repairs from the rent payment. If a tenant exercises these rights, it is very important to read the law carefully because there are specific requirements that must be met.
- According to Texas Property Code Section 92.0561, if a tenant has followed the proper procedures for letting their landlord know about a problem that might affect their health or safety, the tenant may make the repair themselves and deduct the cost from their rent without a court order. These procedures, outlined in Texas Property Code Section 92.056, include letting the landlord about the problem and giving them a reasonable amount of time to make the repair. This law defines “reasonable time” as seven days, with some exceptions. If the landlord did not try to make the repair in that time, the tenant must tell them about the problem again, this time in writing. Then the landlord must be given another reasonable period of time to make the repair.
- If a landlord does not rekey (found in Texas Property Code Section 92.156) or install security devices like locks, window latches, and sliding door pins as required by law, the tenant may install or rekey the devices and deduct reasonable costs from their rent (found in Texas Property Code Section 92.164).
- If a landlord has agreed to furnish and pay for water, gas, or electric service and then the utility is cut off or the tenant receives written notice that it is about to be cut off due to nonpayment by the landlord, Section 92.360 of the Texas Property Code includes several remedies for the tenant. One includes the ability for the tenant to deduct from rent without a court order the amounts paid to reconnect or avert a cutoff.
Withholding rent may cause you to lose your right to have the property repaired until all the rent has been paid, according to Texas Property Code Section 92.052. This section of the law requires a tenant to be current on rent when asking their landlord to make a repair.
If you do not follow the proper procedures for withholding rent, you may be liable to your landlord for one month’s rent plus $500, according to Texas Property Code Section 92.058. Before withholding any rent, check with an attorney to make sure you have followed all the right steps. The library has information on finding an attorney on our Where to Go for Help page.
Please see Texas Law Help's article on a tenant's right to repairs for more information. Texas Tenant Advisor also has an article on a landlord's duty to repair along with an article on locks and security devices.
The library also has more information about landlord/tenant law on our research guide to Texas landlord/tenant law.