Unfortunately, tenants and landlords do not always get along. Disputes often arise over rent, repairs, and the general conditions of the leased property. Occasionally, tenants may be unlikely to report legitimate violations of housing and health codes or request necessary repairs from their landlords for fear that their landlord may retaliate against them and put their living situation in jeopardy. To protect tenants in these situations Texas has passed an Anti-Retaliation Statute. This article will provide an overview of the statute and the rights and protections it provides tenants and landlords. If you have questions regarding retaliatory eviction contact the real estate attorneys at the Law Office of Farren Smith for a consultation.
Retaliatory Eviction Basics
In Texas, tenants are protected from retaliatory eviction by the Anti-Retaliation Statute . The statute provides tenants with protection for taking a variety of actions and prohibits landlords from taking a number of actions against tenants for engaging in these protected actions. Tenants are primarily protected from retaliation for the following acts:
- A good faith exercise of rights granted in a lease, ordinance, or statute.
- Requesting or noticing the landlord of a repair that the landlord is required to fix.
- Reporting or complaining, in good faith, of a violation of building or housing codes.
- Establishing or participating in a tenant organization.
For example, in Sims v. Century Kiest Apartments 541 S.W.2d 206 (1976) a Texas court found that a tenant who complained about increasingly deteriorating conditions in his apartment, reported violates of health and building codes to city authorities, and joined a tenants’ rights movement could maintain an action for retaliatory eviction when his landlord evicted him following these actions.
A landlord is not prohibited from engaging in any conduct when the tenant engages in one of the protected actions. Generally, the landlord is considered to be engaging in retaliation if he engages in any of the following within six months of the tenant engaging in a protected action:
- Filing an eviction proceeding.
- Depriving the tenant of use of the premises.
- Increasing the tenants rent.
- Terminating the tenant’s lease.
- Materially interfering with the tenant’s rights under the lease or a statute.
A landlord may defend against a claim of retaliatory eviction by proving that that action was not made for the purpose of retaliation. For a claim of retaliatory eviction a landlord may avoid liability by showing that the eviction was based on a valid ground. For example, the tenant was delinquent on rent, the tenant intentionally damaged the premises, the tenant threatened the safety of other tenants, the landlord, or his employees, or the tenant materially breached a provision of the lease.
Tenants Remedies for Retaliatory Eviction and Landlords Remedies for Bad Faith Complaints
The Anti-Retaliation Statute provides remedies for both a successful suit by a tenant, as well as remedies for a landlord when a tenant files a retaliatory eviction suit in bad faith.
A tenant may seek injunctive or declaratory relief as well as damages including: moving costs, property damage, and other expenses. In addition, they may recovery one month’s rent plus $500, as well as attorney’s fees and court costs.
A landlord may recovery for a retaliatory eviction suit brought in bad faith. A landlord’s remedies include recovery of possession on the premises, one month’s rent plus $500, as well as attorney’s fees and court costs.
Contact us today if you need help determining landlord and tenants rights. We can help protect you and your rights.
- 18-282 Dorsaneo, Texas Litigation Guide