As a tenant, rent hikes are never pleasant. After all, rent amount played a significant role in where you ultimately decided to live. If a recent rent hike threatens to displace you, you may wonder what, if anything, you can do about it.
Unfortunately, in Texas, your options are very limited when it comes to renting increases. According to Caretaker, Texas lacks rent control or stabilization laws, giving landlords the right to raise the rent by however much they want. There are very few exceptions to this law, but even they provide little reprieve.
When landlords can and cannot raise the rent in Texas
Though not exactly an exception, it is illegal for your landlord to raise your rent in the middle of your lease term. A landlord must wait until the end of the lease term to hit you with a rent increase.
If you have a fixed-term lease, which typically lasts for one year, your landlord must wait until the term expires before raising your rent. If your lease is a month-to-month, however, he or she can increase your rent at any time. In the latter case, he or she must give you a 30-day notice unless your contract specifies otherwise. If your landlord gives you adequate advance notice of a rent hike and you renew your lease for the apartment or home regardless, the law views your acceptance of renewal as an acceptance of the rent increase.
Limited rent control exceptions
Section 214.902 of the Texas Property Code does allow some municipalities within Texas to enact some form of rent control in the wake of a “disaster.” The disaster must be an event that Texas law recognizes as a disaster, such as an earthquake, flood, fire, oil spill or major weather event. The governor must approve the proposed regulations and terminate them upon the abatement of the natural disaster. To give you an idea of how helpful Section 214.902 is for tenants, not a single Texas locality has established temporary rent control measures since before Hurricane Harvey.
Unfortunately, few legal options are available to you if your landlord raises your rent unexpectedly. However, if you suspect your landlord has acted illegally, consult with a real estate lawyer.