Renters’ and landlords’ rights in Texas are governed by the Texas Civil Code, which does not set any maximum security deposit limits across the state. However, your city or town can enact regulations to control the amount a landlord can require for a security deposit.
The Civil Code does mandate that landlords return your security deposit within 30 days of moving out unless you’ve breached the terms of your lease or damaged the rental unit.
It can be time-consuming to figure out what rights you have as a renter—and let’s be honest, a read through the Texas Civil Code is enough to put anyone to sleep.
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What is Texas law on security deposits?
Renters’ and landlords’ rights are laid out in the Texas Civil Code.
Subchapter C, Sec 92.100 in the Property Code is where you can read the legalese if you wish.
In the Lone Star State, a landlord may charge renters a security deposit, which is a down payment on a rental property separate from the monthly rent. When the renter moves out, the landlord must return the security deposit.
The code specifies that a landlord may keep part or all of your security deposit in certain circumstances, but for the most part they’re required to give your deposit back within 30 days after your term ends.
What is the maximum security deposit a landlord can charge in Texas?
There is no security deposit limit dictated by the Texas state government, but towns and cities can regulate security deposits as they see fit.
That said, most security deposits fall between one to two months’ worth of rent. So if your monthly rent is $1,000, most renters will not pay a security deposit over $2,000.
Security deposit requirements are expected upon move-in in addition to the first month’s rent. Therefore, a hypothetical renter paying $1,000 a month may need to pay around $3,000 to cover a security deposit and initial rent at once.
How long does a landlord have to return a security deposit in Texas?
Texas landlords must return your security deposit within 30 days of the end of your lease.
As the renter, you must provide the landlord with your new address so the security deposit can reach you on time.
What can a landlord withhold a security deposit for in Texas?
Texas property law limits the reasons why a landlord may withhold some or all of your security deposit at the end of your rental. Here are the only reasons why landlords can withhold money:
Breach of the leasing agreement
Abnormal damage to the property
If your landlord withholds money due to damages you’ve caused, they must provide you with an itemized list of all deductions (unless you abandon the rental without paying your rent in full).
Texas code specifies that landlords cannot charge you for normal wear and tear. This points to a gray area of the law—what is normal wear and tear, and what is abnormal damage?
Some situations can be quite clear, like if you flood the apartment because you forgot to turn off the bathtub or punched a hole in the wall. To avoid running into a dispute, take pictures of the apartment as you find it when you move in. That way, any damages from previous tenants can’t be pinned onto you.
Key Takeaway Renters in Texas are entitled to have their full security deposit returned to them unless they breach their lease agreement or cause damage beyond normal wear and tear.
How to get your security deposit back in Texas
Renters in Texas are to give their landlord a forwarding address to receive their security deposit. As long as you’ve done that, you can expect your full security deposit back within 30 days.
But if 30 days pass and there’s no sign of your money, what should you do? The best practice is to contact your old landlord—there may have just been a mix-up. The check may have gotten lost in the mail, or the landlord may have forgotten to keep your new address.
If you do encounter a landlord who refuses to return your security deposit or withholds funds and does not give you an itemized list of deductions, you have the right to sue them in
small claims court.
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