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Landlords are friendlier in 2014 thanks to a new Texas law

For years, greedy landlords have abused renters as they pleased. However, a new law starting this year gives landlords a little less leeway. Under the new legislation, they are no longer allowed to hide leases from tenants or retaliate against them.

Landlord standing in front of a house during strike
Cornell Capa/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Anyone who is a long time renter or knows anything about contract law might be surprised to learn or might be quite aware of landlords who make it a habit to hide a lease from the very same renter who signed that lease.

Since, there is nothing in the Texas Property Code that explicitly banned hiding the rental agreement, many landlords took advantage of the loophole and ran with it!

Sandy Rollins, the Executive Director of the Texas Tenants' Union, an organization that gives free legal advice to tenants told The Dallas Observer, often renters will only have a page or two of their lease and have asked repeatedly for their contract with no luck. Rollins said tenants have every right to a copy, which is why the bill was created.

Thanks to Senator John Carona, a lawmaker who is usually known for screwing the little guy in favor of big business stood up for him, this time and wrote the Senate Bill 630. In fact, the apartment industry and real estate industry also threw their support behind this bipartisan bill. They all agree, no one should be able to hide contracts from people who signed them and are paying money!

The bill, signed into law this June, states that "a landlord must provide at least one complete copy of the lease to at least one tenant who is a party to the lease" within three business days.

In Addition, the bill amends the Texas property code. It states there will be no retaliation in regards to revenge on tenants who establish or participate in a tenants' organization.

According to an article in the Dallas Observer, Alice Basey, board president of the Texas Tenants' Union, said no tenants should be afraid to meet with their neighbors to deal with common problems, because they fear retaliation! Basey said they have every right to form a group, meet and discuss issues, and can do so, now, thanks to the new state law.

So, while it's still legal for a landlord to sue for a bogus rental "discount" or to tow a run-down car, at least now, a support group can be formed to discuss it without fear.

In a press release, Rollins adds: "While more advances are needed to protect tenants from unfair situations, we are happy that these two laws are now on the books."

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