There are a few instances where the tenant can make a repair and deduct the cost of the repair from his rent, but they are generally emergency-related cases.
Occasionally during a tenancy an issue will arise where the tenant wants to make a repair or some type of alteration to the unit. Texas residential leases prohibit such handiwork by the tenant (or performed by someone hired by the tenant) without the prior written consent of the landlord. However, there are a few instances where the tenant can make a repair and deduct the cost of the repair from his rent, but they are generally emergency-related cases:
- backup or overflow of raw sewage
- flooding inside the unit from broken pipes or natural drainage
- no potable water
- inadequately heated or cooled air which affects the health of the occupants
As long as the landlord has been notified in writing by the tenant about the issue, appropriate time has elapsed and the issue has gone un-addressed by the landlord, and the appropriate local housing, building, or health official has notified the landlord that the condition materially affects the health or safety of an ordinary tenant, then the tenant can take action. In most cases the tenant will hire a professional to do this type of work, but the landlord can agree to have the tenant perform the repairs as long as they comply with local codes and are of professional quality.
A tenant can repair and deduct as often as necessary so long as the total repairs and deductions in any one month do not exceed one month's rent or $500, whichever is greater. Remember also that the tenant must provide a receipt for the work done at the same the reduced rent is submitted.
Make sure to review Texas Property Code § 92.0561 to thoroughly understand the circumstances and procedures regarding repair and deduct remedies made by your tenant.