When you invest in property, this comes with both benefits and risks. For example, some risks may involve expensive repairs or tenants who fail to pay rent. Therefore, if you are a property investor, it is important you protect your rights by hiring a Dallas Fort Worth landlord lawyer.
We Can Help You Draft a Solid Lease Agreement
Having a solid lease agreement is one way you can ensure your landlord rights are protected. Texas law allows you to have either an oral or a written lease agreement. However, we encourage you to have a written lease agreement, as it will not only set out the terms and conditions of the agreement, but also both parties must sign the contract, thereby acknowledging their understanding and agreement of those terms and conditions.
An experienced Dallas Fort Worth landlord lawyer will draft a lease agreement that is favorable to the landlord. It will also be compliant and enforceable under both Texas law and federal law. The lease agreement may include the following:
- Parties’ names and contact information
- Grace period, if any
- Rights and responsibilities of each party
- Remedies for breach of contract
- Security deposit
- Pet deposit, if desired
- Circumstance allowing a tenant to terminate a contract without penalty, such as death of the tenant. Or, pursuant to Texas law, if the tenant is a domestic violence victim with an order of protection against the abuser or a temporary injunction that may be part of a divorce proceedings.
Clearly State When You Can Enter the Premises
After the tenant takes possession of the property, a landlord’s right to enter the premises is limited. Your Once a tenant has possession of the property, this limits your right as a landlord to enter the premises. Your Dallas Fort Worth landlord lawyer will make sure that your lease agreement makes clear under what circumstances you are allowed to enter the property. He will also specify the amount of time needed for advance notice, such as:
- Necessary repairs
- Prospective tenant is shown the property
- Emergency inside the property
It’s important to remember that if you enter the premises for reasons that are not outlined in the lease agreement, or if you fail to provide advance notice, the tenant may be able to seek damages and release from the lease.
Determining the Security Deposit
Under Texas law, landlords can determine the amount for security deposit as well as where the deposit is held. However, you must return the deposit within 30 days following the tenant vacating the premises. Landlords may deduct the following from the deposit:
- Unpaid rent
- Costs for repairs to any damages beyond normal wear and tear (be sure to retain proof of damages and receipts for repairs)
If you withhold the security deposit in bad faith, you could end up paying triple the security deposit amount, as well as court costs and attorney fees. A Dallas Fort Worth landlord lawyer can help you develop a defense strategy against a bad faith claim.
Responsibility for Repairs and Damages
Both tenants and landlords have a responsibility to make repairs to certain damages. Generally, if a tenant requests for repairs but the landlord fails to make such repairs, the tenant may make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent. There may be a dispute as to who is responsible for making the repairs. A Dallas Fort Worth landlord lawyer will review your case and retain experts if necessary to argue that the damages resulted from the tenant’s conduct.
If You Have to Evict a Tenant
Evicting a tenant is one remedy in the case of a tenant breaching the lease agreement, such as:
- Failure to pay rent
- Violation of other terms of the lease agreement (for example, conducting illegal activities on the property)
- Public indecency
Notice to Vacate
Before going forward with eviction proceeding in court, you must first properly serve the tenant(s) with a Notice to Vacate, which should include:
- Names and address of the tenants
- Reason for the notice
- Date the notice was served
- Statement of when the tenant must move out and/or amount of outstanding rent
- Explanation that the landlord may pursue a lawsuit to evict the tenant from the premises
- Description of how the Notice was served
If the notice to vacate is due to failure to pay rent, you must give at least three days’ notice to pay the rent before you file for eviction. This is, however, unless your lease agreement states that 24 hours’ notice is sufficient.
Your Dallas Fort Worth landlord lawyer will ensure that the notice is accurate and served properly. Moreover, our firm letterhead will communicate to the tenant that you have the backing of a reputable attorney and are prepared to move forward with the eviction process.
Taking the Case to Court
Generally, a landlord may initiate an eviction suit against the tenant three days after the notice. At Girling Law, we will rigorously defend against a tenant’s tactics to delay the proceedings. We will also negotiate settlements and aggressively represent you throughout the trial proceedings and, if necessary, throughout the appeal process.
Speak to a Dallas Fort Worth Landlord Lawyer
A Dallas Fort Worth landlord lawyer can help you optimize your investment property and protect your landlord rights. Contact Girling Law today at (817) 864-8228.