There’s a good chance that during a tenancy something will break in the unit or need some type of maintenance. This is what you sign up for when you’re a landlord! Texas law is straightforward about the maintenance responsibilities of landlords and tenants, and it’s best to review the obligations of both parties, which should be outlined in the lease.

Landlord's Responsibilities

In general, the landlord has to make a diligent effort to repair or remedy a condition if the tenant specifies the condition in a notice to the landlord and if the tenant is current on their rent. In addition, the condition must be something that materially affects the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant or arises from the failure of the landlord to provide and maintain a device to supply hot water of a minimum temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

While this duty to repair exists, there is an exception made for conditions caused by the tenant. Unless the condition was caused by normal wear and tear, the landlord does not have a duty to repair or remedy a condition caused by the tenant, a member of tenant’s family, a lawful occupant of the unit, or a guest or invitee of the tenant. Clearly, the duty to repair and the need to repair are different issues, and the landlord can always insist on reimbursement for necessary repairs due to damage inflicted by the tenant or other occupants.

Tenant's Responsibilities

While the majority of tenants will treat your property with care, it’s important to specify in the lease the specific responsibilities and expectations of your tenants regarding the property. LeaseRunner’s Texas Residential Lease Agreement clearly spells out those responsibilities, and it starts with the general statement that “Tenant shall not destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove any part of the Premises or surrounding property, nor permit any person under Tenant’s direction or control to do so.”

Specific responsibilities include:

  1. comply with all obligations imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of all municipal, county, and state codes, statutes, ordinances, and regulations;
  2. keep the Premises clean, sanitary, and in good condition;
  3. notify landlord immediately of any defects, maintenance issues, or dangerous conditions of which tenant becomes aware;
  4. be responsible for cleaning and routine maintenance;
  5. dispose promptly of all rubbish, garbage and other waste; and
  6. properly use and operate any electrical, gas and plumbing fixtures and keep them as clean and sanitary as their conditions permit.

Again, none of this is too difficult, but one of the main purposes of a lease agreement is to have everything in writing and to not assume that the parties involved understand their duties. For that reason, the maintenance responsibilities section of any lease is critical to protect both the landlord and the tenant.