Rent Increase? Non-renewal?

By Rachel Walker

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Because many leases end over the summer, tenants often reach out to us during this time with questions about rent increases, lease renewals, and lease terminations. A landlord’s obligations can vary depending on what kind of housing the tenant lives in.

In Texas, there are no laws protecting tenants in private-market housing from rent increases after the lease term. While a landlord must abide by the rental amount agreed to in the lease agreement, they can raise rent once the lease ends. In order to raise rent, however, a landlord must give advance notice. Generally, if a tenant pays rent monthly, the landlord must give 30- days notice of a rent increase before the tenant is obligated to pay the new amount. Some leases may require further advance notice, such as 60 or 90 days.

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Most leases renew automatically once the lease term ends. Unless the lease specifies that it will not renew, a landlord must give advance notice if they do not wish to continue renting to their tenant once the lease is up. Similarly, a tenant must give advance notice of move-out, otherwise the landlord may continue to hold them liable for rent. It is important to check the lease agreement to determine exactly how much advance notice is required. It is common for a lease to require even more than 30 days.

Private-market landlords do not have an obligation to renew their tenants’ rental agreements, and they are not required to notify tenants of why they are not being renewed. However, it is illegal for a landlord to terminate a tenant’s lease as an act of retaliation or discrimination. Tenants are protected from retaliation for six months after they attempt to exercise a right guaranteed by the lease or local, state, or federal laws. Retaliation can be difficult to prove, so tenants should maintain careful documentation and consult an attorney if they believe their landlord is retaliating against them.

Tenants in federally subsidized housing- have additional rights pertaining to rent increases and non-renewals. Tenants in public housing pay rent determined by HUD; generally, 30% of their income. Public housing tenants should see their rent increase only if their household income has increased. Tenants living in tax-credit (LIHTC) properties may see rent increases if the Area Median Income goes up. Tenants in federally subsidized housing are also protected from non-renewals. Property managers have an obligation to renew their tenants’ leases unless they have good cause for nonrenewal.

Any tenant or landlord with questions about their rights and obligations regarding rent increases and renewals can reach out to our counseling services to discuss their situation.