a) A landlord who has expressly or impliedly agreed in the lease to furnish and pay for water, gas, or electric service to the tenant’s dwelling is liable to the tenant if the utility company has cut off utility service to the tenant’s dwelling or has given written notice to the tenant that such utility service is about to be cut off because of the landlord ‘s nonpayment of the utility bill.
b) If a landlord is liable to the tenant under Subsection (a)of this section, the tenant may:
1. pay the utility company money to reconnect or avert the cutoff of utilities according to this section;
2. terminate the lease if the termination notice is in writing and move-out is to be within 30 days from the date the tenant has notice from the utility company of a future cutoff or notice of an actual cutoff, whichever is sooner;
3. deduct from the tenant’s rent, without necessity of judicial action, the amounts paid to the utility company to reconnect or avert a cutoff;
4. if the lease is terminated by the tenant, deduct the tenant’s security deposit from the tenant’s rent without necessity of lawsuit or obtain a refund of the tenant’s security deposit pursuant to law;
5. if the lease is terminated by the tenant, recover a pro rata refund of any advance rentals paid from the date of termination or the date the tenant moves out, whichever is later;
6. recover actual damages, including but not limited to moving costs, utility connection fees, storage fees, and lost wages from work; and
7. recover court costs and attorney ‘s fees, excluding any attorney ‘s fees for a cause of action for damages relating to a personal injury.
c) When deducting for the tenant’s payment of the landlord ‘s utility bill under this section, the tenant shall submit to the landlord a copy of a receipt from the utility company which evidences the amount of payment made by the tenant to reconnect or avert cutoff of utilities.
d) The tenant remedies under this section are effective on the date the tenant has notice from the utility company of a future cutoff or notice of an actual cutoff, whichever is sooner. However, the tenant’s remedies under this section shall cease if:
1. the landlord provides the tenant with written evidence from the utility that all delinquent sums due the utility have been paid in full; and
2. at the time the tenant receives such evidence, the tenant has not yet terminated the lease or filed suit under this section.
Added by Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 650, Sec. 12, eff. Aug. 28, 1989.
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Disclaimer: The above is our interpretation with respect to the basics of the Texas Property Code with regard to landlord responsibilities. While this information can help ensure property code compliance for your rental property, we are not lawyers. Since this is the case, you may want to review the full detailed text of Chapter 92 - Residential Tenancies - Texas Property Code as it applies to landlord and tenant arrangements.