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How to File a Complaint Against a Texas Landlord

Camila Lopez - Texas Landlord Complaints - July 5, 2024

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    Our homes are the place where we should be able to feel safe and comfortable if all else feels out of place. However, conflicts with a landlord can leave us feeling powerless and frustrated. If a dispute arises between you and your landlord, you are able to file a complaint with the government and other organizations that support tenants. If you are still unable to solve your dispute after filing a complaint, you may want to consider suing in small claims court. In this article, we go over the different ways you can file a complaint against a landlord.

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a complaint letter to a landlord? Check out our complaint letter tool.

    Common Types of Complaints and Lawsuits Against Landlords

    Here are some common complaints people have against landlords: 

    • Your landlord refuses to return your security deposit after you move out. 

    • The terms under your lease have been breached. For example, your landlord increases the rent before the lease term was over, breaching the terms of the lease agreement.

    • Your landlord has breached Texas’ implied warranty of habitability. Warranty of habitability means that regardless of any contradicting lease term, your landlord is required to keep your unit in a habitable condition at all times. 

    • You are being harassed by the landlord. 

    • You experienced discrimination based on your race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, familial status, etc. For example, you were denied renting an apartment due to your gender.

    • Your landlord refuses to make necessary repairs to the rental unit as per the lease terms. 

    • Your landlord refuses to do anything about excessive noise or other issues you are having with your neighbors.

    Looking to file a landlord complaint in a different state? Review our 50-state guide to landlord complaints.

    Contact Your Landlord and Report a Complaint Directly

    For some issues, it may be worth speaking to the landlord directly. 

    If you've never had issues with your rental before but now have complaints about common spaces, security deposit disputes, or other issues, start by sharing your concerns through email or phone. If they ignore your informal requests, consider writing a formal letter, like a demand letter or complaint letter, as this way, you can outline your requests in the letter, and notify your landlord that you will seek further action if the issue is not resolved.  

    Here are some other reasons why you should consider sending a demand letter to your landlord: 

    1. If you end up filing a small claims action against your landlord, the judge in your case may ask you at your small claims hearing if you sent your landlord a demand letter before suing. By sending a written demand letter, there is a record of your attempt to settle that you can demonstrate to the judge.

    2. A demand letter signals to your landlord that you are serious about the dispute and willing to take action to resolve the problem.

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a complaint letter to a landlord? Check out our complaint letter tool.

    Here is a video on how our complaint letter tool works:

    File a Complaint With the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 

    If you're wondering where to complain about a private landlord, you have options. Consider filing a complaint about housing discrimination or landlords who receive assistance from the federal government to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”).

    HUD is a United States federal agency (HUD is also described as a cabinet department). HUD is responsible for addressing America's housing needs, enforcing fair housing laws, and more. For example, HUD runs the Multifamily Housing Complaint Line, which enables tenants of HUD-insured and -assisted properties to report complaints such as poor maintenance, dangers to health and safety, mismanagement, and fraud.

    Below are instructions for how to report a bad landlord to HUD:

    • To report a bad landlord to the Multifamily Housing Complaint Line, call toll-free at (800) MULTI-70 (800) 685-8470) / TTY (800) 432-2209.

    • Complaints of housing discrimination are handled by the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (an office under HUD) at 1-800-669-9777.

    File a Complaint With the Appropriate State or City Agency 

    You may be able to file a complaint against a landlord with a local government department in the city in which the property is located. For example, some large cities have a housing department where you can file a complaint about discriminatory housing applications, poor management, health and safety concerns, etc. 

    Below we have included information on how to report a landlord or apartment complex to a local housing authority, state or city agency, or various rental boards in Texas.

    File a Complaint With the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs 

    In Texas, the federal and state Fair Housing Acts protect renters and buyers from being discriminated against due to race, religion, disability, etc. Anyone who feels that they were discriminated against by a landlord can file a Housing Discrimination Complaint with the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs’ Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The TWC is the Texas organization in charge of enforcing the Fair Housing Act.

    There are many ways to file a Housing Discrimination Complaint with the TWC. However, the most straightforward way is electronically by filling out an online inquiry form. To file a complaint with the TWC, you have to file the complaint within one year of the violation

    Some of the information you might need for this complaint include:

    • Your name and address

    • The name and address of the person who committed the alleged discrimination

    • The address of the housing involved

    • A description of the incident (what happened and why you think you were discriminated against)

    • The date(s) the incident occurred

    Note: The TWC only handles housing discrimination complaints, they do not handle other types of landlord complaints. 

    Reach Out to Local Housing Programs 

    In Texas, most cities or counties offer local housing support programs to assist tenants within their communities, which include investigating landlord complaints. Below, we have compiled a list of some of these programs available in various areas across Texas.

    • Fair Housing Program of San Antonio. The City of San Antonio’s Fair Housing/Housing Counseling Program provides San Antonio residents with mediation services, and housing counseling to residents exploring financing, rental, homeownership, and other crucial resources and support. For example, the program assists renters in mediating and resolving issues related to fair housing laws, as well as handling discrimination complaints. For more information or to request help from the Fair Housing Program of San Antonio, call the hotline at (210) 207-5910

    • South Texas Fair Housing Project. The South Texas Fair Housing Project, a part of the Fair Housing Council of Greater San Antonio, provides help for 37 South Texas counties. They primarily handle housing complaints but can also provide additional tenant information to assist you with other types of landlord-tenant issues. To file a complaint or ask general questions about your housing rights, call the hotline at (210)733-3247.  

    • Austin Tenants Council. The Austin Tenants Council Project offers over-the-phone counseling for residents of Travis, Hays, and Williamson County. This program allows tenants to discuss issues they are having with their landlords over the phone and provides options for tenants to resolve their issues. The hotline is available Monday through Friday and can be reached at (512) 474-1961.

    File a Complaint With the Better Business Bureau 

    The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a non-profit that serves as an intermediary between landlords and consumers. You will not find an individual landlord on the BBB. The larger the landlord you rented from, the more likely they are to be found on the BBB

    Reasons why a large landlord would respond to a BBB complaint: 

    • If the landlord is accredited with the BBB and they don't respond to a BBB complaint, its accreditation may be revoked, and the complaint becomes part of its BBB profile.

    • Landlords know that a BBB rating can be an important determining factor when a prospective renter is making a decision to rent with that landlord. 

    Learn how to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

    Consider Suing in Small Claims Court 

    Have you filed a complaint with one of the above organizations or state/city agencies and still have not been able to resolve your landlord/tenant issue? It may be time to consider suing your landlord in Texas small claims court. Small claims courts handle a variety of issues related to landlord/ tenant disputes. 

    Here are some of the most common small claims lawsuits against landlords:

    • Failure to return security deposits.

    • Failure to make necessary repairs to the rental unit.

    • Breach of lease terms.

    • Landlord damaged your property.

    • Landlord kept a portion of your security deposit.

    • Landlord harassed you.

    Key factors to consider before filing a small claims lawsuit for rental property disputes:  

    • Typically, in cases involving rental property disputes, the responsible party is the landlord, NOT the property management company or the apartment complex. For example, if you're filing a small claims lawsuit to reclaim your security deposit, you need to file the lawsuit against the individual holding your security deposit, which is usually the landlord

    • You may file a small claims lawsuit in your local small claims court as long as this is the best option for you. For example, Texas has a Repair and Remedy Complaint that tenants can use to request necessary repairs from their landlords. If your case is about repairs and you are still living in the rental property, this type of complaint may be more suitable for you. 

    Learn how to file a small claims lawsuit against a landlord. 

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a complaint letter to a landlord? Check out our complaint letter tool.

    Author

    Camila Lopez

    Legal Educator @ People Clerk. Camila holds a law degree and is a certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.

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