Tenant Screening Guide for Texas Landlords

The most important laws you need to know when renting in Texas. Understand the basics on researching tenants and how to prepare rental agreements.

Table of Contents

  1. Texas Landlord Tenant Law

  2. How to Screen Tenants in Texas

  3. Texas Landlord Resources

  4. Choosing the Best Screening Service in TX

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Fast Facts: Texas Landlord-Tenant Law

Texas

General

LEGAL CLIMATE

Landlord Friendly

Laws

DEADLINE FOR RETURNING SECURITY DEPOSITS

30 days

TERMINATION FOR A MONTH-TO-MONTH LEASE

30 days

INTEREST IN PAYMENTS ON DEPOSITS

No

NOTICE OF RENT INCREASE

30 days

REQUIRED NOTICE BEFORE LANDLORD ENTRY

None

LIMITS ON LATE FEES

No

TERMINATION NOTICE FOR NONPAYMENT OF RENT

3 days

CHANGE OF PURPOSE NOTICE

120 days

How to Screen Tenants

7 Things to Know for Texas Landlords

Even though Texas has more landlord focused legislation, there are still things to know to ensure a successful relationship with most tenants, including:

  • Utilites requirements
  • Landlord's Lien
  • Lock Out options
  • 2019/2020 Changes

Stay current on important Texas Rental Law Updates and get the information you need.

Landlord-Tenant Laws for Texas' Most Populous Cities

Texas’ most populous cities don’t ask much more from landlords than other areas of the state. In this guide, we focus on which laws are more specific in these areas and things that are a focus for local housing organizations, including:

  • Houston swimming pools
  • Retaliation against tenants in Dallas
  • Anti-Discrimination laws in San Antonio
  • Updates to Property Maintenance requirements in Austin

Go more in-depth on requirements around Landlord-Tenant Laws for Texas Cities and get the information you need.

Tenant Relationship

The relationship between the landlord, their property, and the tenants can be complicated. With both city and state regulations, there can be a lot to keep track of. Fortunately, our researchers have created and procured a number of resources to help you out. It is important to keep these things in mind as you’re choosing a screening service and conducting other business with your assets. Whether this is the first space you’re renting out, or you’re a seasoned property manager with a range of housing options, we’ve got you covered.

Texas Landlord Resources

Texas Apartment Association

The TAA is a non-profit trade association. Across 24 Texas cities, this member based organization specializes in advocacy, education, and communication for the rental housing industry. Members and experts include property owners, builders, developers, property management firms, and service providers. They offer professional training programs for apartment managers and leasing staff.

Rural Rental Housing Association of Texas

The RRHA of Texas specializes in improving the lifestyles of renters in Texas. As rental property professionals, they work to provide affordable, multifamily housing and rental industry information to those who need it. With a focus on rural rentals they offer information on current rules and regulations and training to help ensure that their members are successful.

Texas Law Help

Certain situations might require you to research laws around the tenant and landlord relationship. These are sometimes dense and risky topics, such as evictions, security deposits, and foreclosures, these can be difficult to understand and navigate. It’s not uncommon for a property manager to seek outside assistance to ensure that you’re correctly handling these difficult situations. Texas Law Help is a great resource to study up on the fine details, get proper forms, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Legal Responsibilities for Landlords in Texas

Staying on top of landlord-tenant law is important to be a successful landlord. Nolo offers an additional resource to ensure that you are following legislation in every aspect of your rental. Neglecting your legal responsibilities or cutting corners can become costly and time consuming when it results in lawsuits and tenant complaints.

National Association of Residential Property Managers

The NARPM is another organization you may want to check out. They cater more broadly to any residential property managers, which includes leasing out a single investment property. Here you can find educational courses and documentation associated with maintenance, repair, and being a better property manager.

IRS Publication on Residential Rental Properties

Tax laws around rental properties can be complicated. The Internal Revenue Service has created a publication that outlines several important elements of managing your property. These include rules on reporting income, possible deductions, and special situations that apply to different types of buildings and communities.

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Choosing the Besta Tenant Screening Service

There are plenty of tenant screening services available in the market, so how do you pick the best one?
Here are several factors to keep in mind.

Tenant Screening and Texas Law

Just because you’re buying an FCRA-compliant report doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s been tailored to the laws of your city and state. In many cases, you will be responsible for understanding those rules and ensuring that those are not affecting the decision to accept a potential tenant. Look for services that tailor your report to the area you’re renting in so that you can avoid costly disputes.

For example, the legislation in Texas has passed regarding information that can be used when screening anyone’s background check for character, reputation, or mode of living. Both intent and information that will be provided must be outlined to the applicant prior to pulling the background check. The report must then be provided to the applicant.

It is also important to know how often the screening service updates their records:

  • Credit reporting is a highly regulated industry, which means you’ll usually have up to date information no matter which tenant screening company you use.
  • Criminal records aren’t always as reliable, so you’ll want to ensure you’re using a service that stays up-to-date. Before deciding on a tenant screening service, make sure that they are regularly updating their records with new information from courthouses and sex offender registries.
  • The applicant’s eviction history can also be included with certain reports, sometimes as part of an enhanced package. Along with best practices for Checking References, this is a great way to see if there were problems with a previous rental.

How Screening Services Score Tenants in Texas

To help you quickly understand if a tenant is going to be right for your property, many services provide a summarized score. The most common rating provided is a credit score, which reviews the individual’s ability to pay on time. While this is definitely an important measurement, there are other factors you will want to examine.

By default, credit scores don’t necessarily track a person’s income, the rate at which they are paid, and how those correspond to your rent requirements. These are important factors to consider since they paint a larger picture of what you can expect from the tenant’s stay. TenantCheck includes these additional complexities in the calculation, providing you with a Resident Score.

In Texas, unlike some other states across the country, landlords and property managers are allowed to consider criminal history when evaluating an applicant during the tenant screening process. This offers more information on the report that must be considered when making your rental decisions.

How to Read a Texas Tenant’s Credit Report

Reviewing a person’s credit history is often as easy as confirming they make timely payments to their bank, credit card, and any personal loans. However, sometimes their lenders will make special remarks about the individual’s account or payment history. These terms are often fairly straight-forward; “Account closed for refinance” is self-explanatory, but other terms can be confusing. For example, there are multiple ways to file for bankruptcy that you may want to know about. Or what about the difference between a forbearance and foreclosure?

While you can likely find answers to some of these questions online, you probably want to hear explanations directly from the team that’s delivering the report to you. This article was written for Whitepages TenantCheck, but it might act as a useful primer no matter which service you’re using.

What to Expect from a Tenant Background Screening Report in TX

Curious about what a report looks like? For new landlords, you’ll probably want to familiarize yourself with what to expect. This will help you avoid surprises after you or the tenant pays for it. Reports will always include a credit history. Criminal records are provided when permitted by the city or state, but we recommend familiarizing yourself with local laws before using these records as a deciding factor.

See a sample Whitepages TenantCheck report.

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