Texas Rent Control Laws 2024


Rent control laws, which limit how much landlords can raise rents each year, are a hotly debated topic across the United States. Proponents argue such policies are necessary to protect tenants from excessive rent hikes and displacement, while critics claim they distort housing markets and reduce the supply of affordable housing. 

Texas is one of over 30 states that currently prohibit rent control at the local level. Without statewide regulations, landlords have broad discretion over how much they can raise rents each year in Texas markets. This lack of regulation has contributed to rapidly rising rents in cities like Austin, Dallas, and Houston over the past decade.

This comprehensive guide examines the status of rent control laws in Texas. It provides an overview of current policies, tenant rights and protections, notice requirements for rent increases, and more. Whether you are a tenant looking to better understand your rights, a landlord wanting to remain compliant with state laws, or simply someone interested in housing policy, this guide aims to answer the most common questions around rent control in Texas.

History of Rent Control Laws in Texas

Rent control policies have been prohibited in Texas for decades. The state legislature passed a ban on rent control ordinances in the 1990s, which effectively made it illegal for cities and counties to enact policies that limit how much landlords can raise rents each year. 

The impetus behind banning rent control in Texas was a belief that such policies would constrain the free market and infringe on property rights of landlords and developers. Proponents of the ban argued that rent control reduces incentives for building and properly maintaining rental housing units. They believed limiting rent increases would discourage investment in housing and exacerbate shortages.

Powerful lobbying efforts helped push the statewide ban through the legislature in the 1990s. The real estate and development industry advocated to preserve landlords' abilities to raise rents without restrictions. They contended that rent control would dampen new construction of apartments and condos for lease at a time when Texas cities were experiencing rapid growth.

Since the 1990s, all local rent control ordinances have been preempted by the statewide prohibition. Cities and counties in Texas have no authority to establish rent stabilization policies, rent increase caps, or other tenant protections from excessive rent hikes. The ban remains in effect today, upheld by the state legislature and fought for by landlord and developer groups.

Current State Laws on Rent Control

Texas prohibits rent control at the state level. The state legislature passed a law in 1993 that explicitly bans municipalities and counties from implementing rent control policies. This state preemption law is codified in Chapter 2143 of the Texas Government Code. 

The law states that "a municipality or county may not establish rent control" and that any existing rent control in Texas is "void". This blanket prohibition prevents cities, towns, or counties in Texas from enacting any form of rent stabilization or rent control ordinances, even if their local governments and residents support it.

The state law does not provide any exceptions to allow rent regulation under certain circumstances, such as after natural disasters. It does not grant local jurisdictions any home rule powers to regulate rents within their boundaries. The Texas legislature wanted to maintain a free market for rental housing without any price controls.

This prohibition on rent control applies to all Texas municipalities including major cities like Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. It applies to all types of rental housing, including apartments, single family homes, condos, and mobile homes. Landlords have free rein to raise rents without any caps or limits under state law.

The only way rent control could be enacted in Texas is if the state legislature repealed the existing preemption law. There have been some efforts to overturn the ban, but they have not succeeded so far. The policy continues to have support, especially among landlord and developer groups.

Efforts to Repeal Rent Control Ban

There have been efforts at both the local and state level in Texas to repeal the ban on rent control ordinances. Some larger cities like Austin and San Antonio have pushed for allowing local governments to implement forms of rent stabilization or control. However, attempts by city councils to pass resolutions calling for rent control authority have failed to override state law. 

At the state legislature, some Democratic lawmakers have introduced bills to repeal the statute prohibiting rent control ordinances. In 2021, a bill was proposed to allow cities and counties to regulate rents if vacancy rates fell below 5%. Landlords and developers lobbied heavily against this, arguing rent control would restrict housing supply. The bill did not receive enough support to get a full vote.

Advocates for tenants rights continue to make the case that allowing some form of rent stabilization could help with rapidly rising rents in Texas cities. But the real estate and landlord lobby remains influential in the Republican-controlled state legislature. Barring a major political shift, a repeal of the statewide ban on rent control seems unlikely in Texas in the near future.

Rent Increase Notice Requirements

Texas landlords must provide tenants with proper written notice before increasing rent on a rental unit. As per Texas Property Code Section 91.001, landlords are required to give at least 30 days' notice prior to implementing a rent increase.

The written notice must unambiguously state:

  • The amount of the rent increase
  • The date the increased rent payment is due
  • The new total amount of rent due 

For example, if the current rent is $1000 per month, and the landlord wants to increase it to $1100 starting November 1st, the notice should clearly state the rent will increase to $1100 starting November 1st. 

Verbal notices or notices without the requisite information are invalid. The notice must be delivered directly to the tenant in person or mailed by registered, certified or regular mail. 

If the landlord fails to provide valid written notice of a rent increase 30 days in advance, the tenant is not obligated to pay the increased amount until proper notice has been given.

Average Rent Increases

Rent increases in Texas can vary greatly depending on the local rental market conditions. Landlords typically raise rents between 5-10% annually, however there is no legal limit if proper notice is given. 

In 2022, rents rose over 15% in cities like Austin and Dallas due to high demand and low vacancy rates after the COVID-19 pandemic. The average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Austin was $1,750 in 2022, up from $1,500 in 2021. In Dallas, the average rent rose to $1,550 from $1,350 over the same period.

Some landlords impose the maximum increases allowed each year, especially in tight rental markets. It's not uncommon to see rents hiked 10-20% when a lease is up for renewal in cities like Austin with hot real estate markets. 

The lack of rent control in Texas means some long-term tenants have experienced dramatic rent hikes of 50% or more when their leases are up for renewal. Landlords can raise rents to match prevailing market rents even if it prices out existing tenants.

There are no legal protections or recourse for tenants facing large rent increases in Texas, as long as the landlord provides proper notice. The best they can do is try negotiating a smaller increase, find a cheaper unit nearby, or move further away from the city to find affordable rents.

Tenant Rights and Protections

Even without rent control, Texas tenants do have some rights and protections under state law.

Laws Prohibiting Retaliation

Landlords are prohibited from retaliating against tenants who exercise their legal rights. For example, a landlord cannot raise the rent, decrease services, or evict a tenant because they complained to authorities about needed repairs or joined a tenants' rights group. 

Tenants have the right to complain, organize, and take other actions without fear of retaliation from the landlord. If a landlord does take retaliatory action within 6 months of a tenant exercising their rights, the tenant may be able to sue for one month's rent plus $500.

Eviction Rules

Landlords must follow proper procedures for legal evictions, which involve giving written notice and filing for eviction in court if needed. Tenants cannot have essential services like water or heat shut off in an attempt to force them out. Self-help evictions like changing the locks are also illegal.

Tenants can only be evicted for not paying rent or for lease violations. Landlords cannot evict tenants on a month-to-month lease without cause. There are also protections against eviction for victims of domestic violence.

Advocacy Groups and Resources

Texas Tenants' Union is a nonprofit organization that provides education, advocacy, and community organizing to empower tenants across Texas. They offer a tenant rights hotline, counseling, workshops, and help tenants organize to advocate for their rights. 

The Austin Tenants Council is focused specifically on tenant advocacy and rights in the Austin area. They provide counseling, education, and help tenants navigate disputes with landlords. The ATC pushes for pro-tenant policies at the local level.

Dallas Area Tenants' Association provides counseling, education, referral services, and community organizing for tenants in Dallas. DATA helps renters understand their rights and responsibilities when dealing with landlords. 

The Houston Tenants Union advocates for tenant protections and stands against gentrification and displacement in Houston. They organize tenants to fight for affordable housing and educate renters on their legal rights. The HTU operates a tenant hotline as well.

The San Antonio Housing Authority operates a landlord-tenant counseling program to provide guidance on rental rights and obligations. They offer conflict resolution services to help resolve tenant-landlord disputes outside of court.

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid is a nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services to assist low-income renters, including eviction defense, repair requests, and discrimination cases. They have offices across Texas.

Strategies for Tenants

Tips for dealing with rent hikes

Negotiate with your landlord:

Have an open conversation with your landlord about your situation and ability to pay the increased rent. Politely request a lower increase or gradual phase-in. Offer to sign a longer lease in exchange.

Look for roommates

Getting a roommate or renting out an extra room can help offset the higher rent. Make sure to review your lease terms and check with your landlord before subletting.

See if your landlord will make unit improvements

Offer to have the landlord make updates like new appliances or flooring that could justify a rent increase in exchange for a smaller hike. 

Review your budget and cut costs

Look for areas to save on things like cable, internet plans, subscriptions, dining out, etc. to free up money for rent. 

Increase your income

Consider taking on a side gig or finding a higher paying job to bring in more money to cover rent.

Apply for rental assistance

Look into programs like Section 8 housing vouchers and other local assistance for help paying your rent. 

Get tenant organizing

Work with your neighbors to negotiate collectively and protest unreasonable increases. There is power in numbers.

Seek guidance on withholding rent or other possible legal remedies if your landlord violates notice requirements or rental laws. 

Plan your next move

If the rent hike is unavoidable, start planning now for your next apartment search so you have time to find affordable options.


Texas remains one of the few states in the U.S. that prohibits rent control at the local level. The state legislature has repeatedly blocked efforts to give cities and counties the authority to implement rent stabilization policies. As a result, tenants have few protections against excessive rent increases in Texas. Landlords can raise rents by any amount as long as they provide 30 days written notice to tenants.

With rapid rent growth in cities like Austin, Dallas, and Houston, more tenants are facing housing cost burdens. Low and moderate income households are particularly vulnerable to displacement when rents spike. Advocates argue that some form of rent regulation is needed to promote housing affordability and stability. But landlords and developers have lobbied successfully against rent control, citing concerns about stifling new construction. 

While statewide rent control does not appear politically viable in Texas currently, advocates continue to push for strengthening tenant protections. Requiring longer notice periods for large rent increases, limiting security deposits, enacting just cause eviction ordinances, and increasing affordable housing funding are some alternative policies gaining support. However, the basic framework of Texas as a highly landlord-friendly state with minimal renter protections remains firmly in place for now. The lack of rent control will continue shaping housing affordability conversations as more cities experience rapid rent growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much can a landlord legally raise the rent in Texas?

In Texas, there is no state-mandated cap on how much a landlord can increase rent. Landlords are free to raise rent by any amount, as long as they provide the tenant with proper notice, which is typically at least 30 days before the rent increase takes effect, especially for month-to-month leases.

Why does Texas not have rent control?

Texas does not have rent control because state law explicitly prohibits local municipalities from enforcing any type of rent control. This law is based on the principle that market-driven pricing is preferable and that rent control could potentially discourage real estate development and investment.

What is a standard rent increase in Texas?

While there is no statutory guideline for a "standard" rent increase in Texas due to the absence of rent control, rent increases typically align with market conditions. On average, rent increases might range from 3% to 10% annually, depending on factors like location, property condition, and changes in the housing market.

Is Texas rent relief still available?

As of the last update, the major statewide Texas Rent Relief program launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been closed after distributing all available funds. However, local programs in various cities or counties might still offer rent relief or assistance. Tenants seeking assistance should check with local housing authorities or non-profit organizations for current opportunities.

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