Legislative Update

Illustration of document icon

Laws Affecting Tenants are Changing September 1st, 2019

Important updates are coming in Texas tenant law on September 1, 2019, that you should be aware of if you are a renter in the Lone Star State. Section 92.011 of the Texas Property Code has, been amended as you can see, in part, below. We’ve included just these sections for ease of understanding at this time.

(a) A landlord may not collect from a tenant a late fee for failing to pay any portion of the tenant’s rent unless:

  1. notice of the fee is included in a written lease;

  2. the fee is reasonable; and

  3. any portion of the tenant’s rent has remained unpaid two full days after the date the rent was originally due.

(a-2) For purposes of this section, a late fee is considered reasonable if the late fee does not exceed 12 percent of the amount of rent for the rental period under the lease.

So, what does this mean for most of you? A vast amount of renters in Texas have signed a TAA, or Texas Apartment Association Lease, which already gives the two-day grace-period before late fees apply, which is typically after the 3rd of the month. But, if your lease says that late fees will apply just one day after they were due (like some TAR leases do) then your landlord will be in violation of this law if they apply late fees before the expiration of two days after rent was due.

Really, the more important protection provided for tenants by the changes to the law are in section a-2 above, which generally limits the late fees your landlord can charge you (at least without dealing with a massive headache during litigation) to 12% of the rent you owe for the rental period in question. So, if you pay rent monthly, your rental period is 1 month. If one month’s rent is $1000.00, then the total late fees, including the initial charge and any daily fees, must be $120.00 or less to fit this litigation-free method of calculation. For the most part this means that your late fees will be vastly reduced, which is great news, because if you are late paying in the first place, chances are you won’t be able to come up with the extra cash to pay the higher late fees.