Why do I have to send my landlord a certified letter?

By Rachel Walker

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When seeking a repair, a tenant should maintain records of all communication with their landlord or property manager. Many tenants who call our counseling line are surprised when a Housing Advocate advises them to send a repair request through certified mail, return receipt requested, even if they already asked their landlord to make the repair. While we understand that sending a certified letter is more expensive and time-consuming than communicating through email or text, it is crucial that tenants communicate all requests in a way that complies with the lease agreement and the Texas Property Code. Otherwise, a tenant may have trouble seeking legal remedies. The Texas Property Code does not provide a definition of written notice, but it does acknowledge certified mail as a way to communicate and track repair requests. It does not address email or text. 

Tenants who have written leases should examine the rental agreement to determine how notice must be communicated. Many leases state that notice must be in writing, signed and delivered to the landlord or property manager. Other lease agreements may allow for email. That being said, it can be hard to prove that a party received an email if they did not respond to it. Sending a certified letter allows a tenant to prove that a landlord received the notice, or that delivery was attempted. Tenants should always keep a copy of any notice given as well as the return receipt.

Any tenant who would like assistance exercising their right to safe housing is encouraged to call 512-474-1961 and ask about ATC’s Repair Mediation Program.