MIDLAND, Texas — Legal Aid of Northwest Texas is a legal group that offers representation to low-income individuals. They cover a variety of topics, but one important topic is the idea of tenant rights.
Tenants of certain properties were granted a temporary pause on their rental payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. That is one of the many rights a tenant has, even if this particular one is only temporary.
Tenants also have a right to not be locked out of their property.
"They can go and request that the door be unlocked or whatever or if they need a key to get into the property, the landlord has within two hours to do that, they have to provide that," Marvilyn Bohannan, staff attorney for Legal Aid said.
Landlords also can't shut down utilities on a tenant for a non-payment of rent. Utilities can only be shut down in the case of an emergency.
"Another thing that tenants don’t always realize is that the landlord cannot shut off their utilities without whether they are paying rent or whether they haven’t paid their utility bill, the landlord cannot do that unless there’s some kind of emergency," Bohannan said.
Tenants aren't the only ones who have rights, however. Landlords have certain rights too. Several properties offer a grace period when it comes to making a rent payment. That's something that landlords don't have to respect.
"Tenants think they have this grace period and that oh I can’t pay on the first but as long as I pay before the fifth then that’s okay. Well, actually if you don’t pay on the first and that’s written into your lease agreement, they can actually go and get that notice to vacate. They don’t have to wait for that grace period," Bohannan said.
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