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Breaking a Lease in Texas – Know the Laws

As a landlord in Texas, you must be aware of the laws for breaking a lease, should you ever have a tenant who wants or needs to break their lease. 

There are many reasons a tenant might want to break their lease, from relocating for a new job, to getting a divorce or separating from their partner, to serving in the military. Some of these reasons are legal and some are not – you need to be well-informed about which is which. 

Under Texas landlord-tenant law, there are steps that you must abide by when handling this issue. In today’s blog, we’ll look at everything you should know regarding tenants breaking a lease in Texas.

Rental Agreements in Texas 

As a landlord, it’s important that you require tenants to sign a lease before moving in. The lease will help outline your expectations as well as protect you and your investment property. 

When drafting a lease agreement, make sure it’s as detailed as possible. To minimize confusion and misunderstandings, these are some of the topics you should consider including:

  • Will you allow the tenant to sublet the property?
  • How much is the rent amount? Is there a grace period for late payments? Will you charge a late fee? 
  • How much is the security deposit?
  • Will you allow pets in the property?

A key in an open door

In addition to these rules, you must also make sure to state the penalties for unjustifiably breaking the lease. 

You should also let them know that they have a responsibility to notify you when looking to end their periodic lease. In Texas, the notice needed is dependent on the type of tenancy. 

A week-to-week tenant must serve 7 days’ notice prior to moving out. A month-to-month tenant must serve 30 days’ advance notice

As most of your tenants likely renew their lease annually, you should state in the lease how much notice must be given. You may consider asking your tenants to give 30 days notice when ending their annual lease. 

Also, you may want to let tenants know about the landlord’s responsibility to re-rent the unit. Texas landlords are required to make reasonable efforts to re-rent their units rather than charge their tenants for all due rent remaining under the lease.

Unjustified Reasons to Break a Lease in Texas 

The following reasons don’t provide a tenant with a legal justification to end their lease. As a result, a tenant doesn’t get legal protection against potential penalties for failing to honor the lease. 

  • Breaking the lease to buy a house. 
  • Breaking the lease due to a job relocation. 
  • Breaking the lease to upsize or downsize. 
  • Breaking the lease due to a divorce or separation. 
  • Moving out to be closer to friends and family.


Cropped image of four people around a table in an office

If the tenant wants to break their lease for any of these reasons, they may contact you and see if you can come to a mutual agreement. As a landlord, it isn’t ideal when a tenant wants to terminate their lease early, but with enough notice, you may consider allowing them to, should you be able to find a new tenant quickly.

Justified Reasons to Break a Lease in Texas 

As a Texas landlord, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with the legally justified reasons a tenant can use to break their lease.

1. Active Military Duty

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) gives servicemembers certain rights and obligations when it comes to breaking a lease. A tenant who is an active servicemember has a right to break their lease without penalty. 

The protection starts from the moment the tenant enters active duty and ends up to ninety days after they are discharged. The following are some things the tenant must do before breaking their lease in accordance with the act. 

  • Prove that they signed the lease before they entered active service. 
  • Prove that they intend to serve as an active servicemember for at least 90 days. 
  • Provide you with copies of the deployment letters from their senior officials. 

The lease, however, doesn’t end immediately. After the tenant has notified you, the earliest the lease can end is 30 days after the next rent cycle. 

Interior of a modern home with a round glass dining table and grey chairs

2. Uninhabitability

A tenant in Texas can also legally break their lease if the unit becomes uninhabitable. As you probably know, Texas requires landlords to maintain their units to certain safety and health codes. As a landlord, you strive to keep the unit in excellent condition for your tenants, and in doing so, avoid any risk of the unit being deemed uninhabitable.

3. Landlord Harassment

You want to maintain a good relationship with your tenants, based on mutual respect. However, you should still familiarize yourself with landlord-tenant law when it comes to things like how much notice you must give your tenant before entering the unit they are renting. Failure to enter the unit without enough notice could be considered landlord harassment.

Two people sitting on a bed with two dogs

4. Other Reasons

In addition to the aforementioned reasons, a tenant in Texas may also be able to break their lease legally if:

  • They are a domestic violence victim.
  • A utility service that the lease obligates you to pay for has been cut off. 
  • The tenant dies before the lease expires.

Bottom Line

Now you know the unjustified and justified reasons for breaking a lease in Texas. If you have any questions, Real Property Management Talent can help. We provide professional property management solutions to property owners in Temple, TX and the surrounding areas. Get in touch to learn more!


Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.

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