Can My Landlord Break My Lease in Texas?

by Jill Stimson J.D. ; Updated July 27, 2017

Texas landlords have legal rights against their tenants who violate their leases by failing to pay rent when due pursuant to the Texas Property Code. Furthermore, if you rent property from a landlord in Texas and damage your landlord's home or engage in illegal activities in violation of your lease, the Texas Property Code allows your landlord to terminate or break your lease and request a judicial eviction.

In Texas, Chapters 91 and 92 of the Texas Property Code govern residential lease agreements. Texas landlords can enter into oral and written leases with their tenants, but they must provide all tenants with reasonably clean and safe housing. The Texas Property Code does not limit the amount of rent that your landlord can charge you, and with proper notice, your landlord can raise your rent as often as he wants, unless your agreement specifically states otherwise.

Termination Notice

Your landlord can break a written lease only for cause, but he can break a month-to-month written agreement or an oral lease agreement for no reason or for any legal reason, as long as he gives you advance written notice and an opportunity to collect your belongings. If you have a periodic lease agreement or one that covers a specific term, your landlord cannot unilaterally terminate your tenancy and evict you without cause and without providing you with at least a 60-day written notice. If you have a month-to-month agreement or an oral lease agreement, your landlord cannot break your lease unless he gives you at least a 30-day written notice of termination.

Pay or Quit Notices

If you fail to pay rent or damage your landlord's property, your landlord can give you a three-day written notice to move out or pay rent. After three days, your landlord can file a motion for eviction or writ of possession in court and obtain a forceful judicial eviction. Typically, judicial evictions in Texas occur after a court or sheriff's office provides you with a 24-hour opportunity to collect your belongings and to move. After 24 hours, your landlord can request a forceful eviction.

Illegal Terminations

Your landlord cannot evict you in retaliation for reporting code violations or in retaliation for reporting discriminatory conduct based on race, religion, gender, age, family status or disability. Furthermore, your landlord cannot evict you for requesting necessary repairs or for requesting re-keying or lock changes before you move in. Under Texas law, your landlord has five days after you begin occupancy to provide these security measures.

Tenants' Rights

If your landlord breaks your lease illegally, you can sue him for prematurely terminating your lease. A Texas court can order your landlord to reimburse you for your attorneys' fees, can order him to return any advance rental payments force him to return your security deposit. Your landlord typically has 30 days to return your security deposit and a written itemization of deductions for damages and unpaid rent after you move out. If your landlord fails to return your security deposit, you can sue him for three times the amount wrongfully withheld, an additional $100 penalty and attorneys' fees as well as court costs. Furthermore, your landlord cannot deduct from your security deposit if he fails to provide you with a written itemization or return your security deposit within 30 days.

About the Author

Jill Stimson has worked in various property management positions in Maryland and Delaware. Stimson worked for the top three property management companies in the commercial industry and focuses her career on property building logistics and tenant relationships. She holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Science in psychology.