7 On Your Side:Renters' Rights - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

11/6/06-Tyler

7 On Your Side:Renters' Rights

One of the biggest misconceptions we found tenants don't understand is eviction.

"A landlord can seldom if ever throw anybody out on the street. Generally speaking there's a process you have to go through," says Attorney Allen Gardner.

Gardner says that process begins by the landlord filing a written notice to vacate.

State law says it's usually a three day notice which doesn't mean you have three days to move out, it means if the issue is not resolved after three days, the landlord will file suit in the Justice of the Peace court.

Which leads us to our point on why it's so important know what's written in your lease!

"You're agreeing to a number of rules and regulations that landlords have written in. They write those things to protect themselves, not the tenant," says Texas Tenants' Union Executive Director Sandy Rollins.

On the standard TAA lease you're giving landlords only 24 hours to warn you of eviction.

There's also a misconception on the re letting fee. When you move out early and pay that fine, you're still liable for the rent remaining on the term of the lease.

"Then (the tenant) finds out months or years later that a landlord has reported them to a credit bureau because they left owing thousands of dollars," says Rollins.

Especially pay close attention to bold print or underlined sentences.

For example, remove a battery from your smoke detector without replacing it and you could be subject to a $100 fine plus one month's rent.

Or this line about freezing weather. You're responsible for pipe damages if you don't follow certain guidelines like keeping your closet doors open or dripping water from faucets.

"A pipe breaks and your whole apartment floods and your landlord walks in and says give me your checkbook you owe me for this," says Gardner.

The best rule of thumb: take time to read everything in your lease.

Knowing what you signed up for, could save you money and the hassle down the road.

If you're in the market to rent, a helpful tool is the Tenants' Rights Handbook issued by the State Bar of Texas.

 

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