houston renters resources
Understanding the terms of your lease and your rights as a renter come in handy when looking for a new place or requesting repairs on your current place. Photo by: Mike Fisher, via Flickr CC BY 2.0
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6 Sites to Help Decode Houston Renters Rights

More than 6 million Texans rent their homes, according to the Texas Apartment Association. Whether you’re a long-time renter or looking for your first apartment in Houston, it’s important that you know your rights. Whose responsibility is it to make sure all smoke detectors in the place are in good working order? What is the best way to request repairs to your place? The list below can help you answer those questions and more.

It’s typically your landlord’s duty to re-key all locks before you move in, according to the Texas Young Lawyers’ Association and the State Bar of Texas.

The Tenants’ Rights Handbook covers common legal questions about renters rights and aims to help guide you through the rental process, from signing the lease to collecting your security deposit. Check out the Tenants’ Council of Houston website for a link to the guidebook and advice on commonly asked questions such as “What if my landlord won’t make necessary repairs?”

The Houston Apartment Association advises that you submit requests for maintenance or repairs in writing—and keep a copy for your records.

When you have questions about your rights or need a sample lease contract, the Houston Apartment Association has you covered. And if you can’t seem to locate the answer to your issue on the site, the association also offers one-on-one help. You can call their office at (713) 595-0300 Wednesday-Friday to talk to a trained consultant about any renter rights or lease questions.

If you were evacuated from your apartment during a hurricane or other emergency, contact your property manger as soon as possible to discuss when it’s safe to re-enter the building. 

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If you’re struggling to pay your rent, check out one of the many Houston-area programs that offer rent assistance.

The Texas Apartment Association offers information on disaster preparedness for renters, as well as what to look for in your lease and how to avoid rental scams. If this is your first time renting, the association also offers an online class called Renting 101. It’s a free course, designed to help first-time renters select, lease and live stress-free in rental housing.

More than 50 programs are offered in Houston to help struggling tenants pay their rent
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Rent Assistance compiles a directory of rental assistance agencies and organizations that will help you get your monthly rent squared away. Among the programs offered are those for low-income families, veterans, Asian Americans, people living with illnesses and more.

A tenant cannot withhold rent if the landlord fails to make requested repairs, according to the Fair Housing Tenant Law.

The Fair Housing Tenant Law states that “A landlord may own an apartment, but it is your home; you do have rights.” The law also lists specific steps a renter can take if a landlord has failed to make repairs.

If you’re looking for a rental that allows pets, it’s a good idea to provide references from your current landlord and documentation on your pet’s vet and training records, according to Renters Resource Houston Apartment Locators.

Renters Resource is a free locating service for Houston renters and can help you locate anything from a studio to a four-bedroom home. The site includes a slew of helpful resources, including tips on renting the right place for your pets, common definitions for “lease lingo” and keeping your apartment safe when you go on vacation.

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