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How to Screen a Tenant in the State of Texas
DISCLAIMER: We do our best to keep this information accurate and up-to-date, but we cannot guarantee either. The most recent law changes may not be reflected here. We do not intend this information to be legal advice, nor are we qualified to advise you regarding legal matters. We highly recommend consulting a lawyer qualified to discuss landlord-tenant law to advise you. We do not specifically endorse any of the websites linked from these pages, nor are we in any way affiliated with the agencies or individuals who have published them. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of information posted on these sites. If you find a problem on this page, please contact us so that we can get it fixed.
Step 1: Know Your Rights & Responsibilities
Landlords and property managers are subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF] (FCRA) during the tenant screening process. Additionally, Texas has laws that affect the tenant screening process. You can find the current Texas landlord-tenant laws on the Texas State Law Library Site. If you are finding the formalities of the state code daunting, you might want to check out these friendlier sites:
New Law Changes Eviction Rules. All 254 counties in Texas will have to abide by the same rules for handling evictions, a process that previously remained open to interpretation by local small-claims courts. The changes adopted by the 82nd Texas Legislature forced landlords to tighten their policies to avoid costly lawsuits from residents.
Step 2: Required Forms & Disclosures
Tip: before you rent for the first time, consider hiring a lawyer to review all of the documents you will use during the application and rental process to ensure that you are protected to the fullest extent of the law.
Rental Application [PDF] (this must be completed in full by the applicant prior to screening)
Lease Agreement (written), containing or attaching the following information:
Owner/Agent Identity - this should include name and address, and if the owner/agent is out-of-state it must include contact information for a resident of the COUNTY in which the rental is located that can act as an agent for the purposes of serving notices and process.
Security Deposit - this must include the amount of the deposit and the conditions under which some or all of the deposit may be withheld. It must also include the name and banking institution holding the deposit.
Non-refundable Fees - explicitly describe any non-refundable fees, and state clearly that they are non-refundable.
Fire Protection & Safety Information: You must disclose the available fire protection and safety information specific to the unit you are renting, including smoking policy, evacuation plans, and who to notify in case of emergency.
Owner Or Agent Identity: In writing, or posted on the property, the landlord must disclose the name and address of the propertys owner and, if an entity located off site from the dwelling is primarily responsible for managing the dwelling, the name and address of the management company. Tex Prop Code 92.201
Security Device Requests: If the landlord wants tenant request for security devices to be in writing, this requirement must be in the lease in boldface type or underlined. (Tex Prop Code 92.159)
Domestic Violence Victims Rights: Victims of sexual abuse or assault on the premises may break a lease, after complying with specified procedures, without responsibility for future rent. Tenants will be responsible for any unpaid back rent, but only if the lease includes the following statement, or one substantially like it: Tenant may have special statutory rights to terminate the lease early in certain situations involving sexual assault or sexual abuse. Tex Prop Code Ann 92.016
Tenant Rights When Landlord Fails To Repair: Agreements must contain language in underlined or bold print that informs the tenant of the remedies available when the landlord fails to repair a problem that materially affects the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant. These rights include the right to repair and deduct, terminate the lease, and obtain a judicial order that the landlord make the repair, reduce the rent, pay the tenant damages including a civil penalty and pay the tenants court and attorney fees. Tex Prop Code 92.056
Criminal, OFAC/Patriot Act & Sex Offender Records - A nationwide search is always performed. These jurisdictions specifically are available in Texas: Dallas Justice Of The Peace Traffic, Bell County Court, Bexar County Courts, Bexar District Courts, Bowie District And County Courts, Barzoria County, Barzoria District Court, Collin District And County Courts, Dallas Courts, Denton County Court Disposed, Denton County Court Filed, Denton District Court Disposed, Denton District Court Filed, TX Department Of Corrections, TX Department Of Corrections Parole, TX Department Of Corrections Probation, TX Department Of Public Safety, El Paso Discrict Court, El Paso Justice Of The Peace, FT Bend Courts, FT Bend District And County Courts, Galveston County Courts, Gregg Courts, Harris County Courts, Harris County Courts Disposition, Harris County Courts Filing, Harris District And County Courts, Hood County Court At Law, Hopkins County Court At Law, Hopkins District Court, Jefferson County Courts, Johnson District Court, Kaufman District And County Courts, Lamar District/County Courts, Lamar Justice Of The Peace Courts, Liberty County Courts, Liberty District Court, Midland Courts, Montgomery District And County Courts, Orange County Court, Potter Courts, Randall District Court, TX Sex Offender Registry, Smith County Court, Travis Misdemeanor, Victoria Court Disposed, Victoria Court Filed, Waller County Court, Williamson County Court, El Paso County Court, Hockley Court.
Eviction Records - records are available from the following counties: Anderson, Andrews, Angelina, Aransas, Archer, Armstrong, Atascosa, Austin, Bailey, Bandera, Bastrop, Baylor, Bee, Bell, Bexar, Blanco, Borden, Bosque, Bowie, Brazoria, Brazos, Brewster, Briscoe, Brooks, Brown, Burleson, Burnet, Caldwell, Calhoun, Callahan, Cameron, Camp, Carson, Cass, Castro, Chambers, Cherokee, Childress, Clay, Cochran, Coke, Coleman, Collin, Collingsworth, Colorado, Comanche, Concho, Cooke, Coryell, Cottle, Crane, Crockett, Crosby, Culberson, Dallam, Dallas, Dawson, De Witt, Deaf Smith, Delta, Denton, Dickens, Dimmit, Donley, Duval, Eastland, Ector, Edwards, El Paso, Ellis, Erath, Falls, Fannin, Fayette, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Fort Bend, Franklin, Freestone, Frio, Gaines, Galveston, Garza, Gillespie, Glasscock, Goliad, Gonzales, Gray, Grayson, Gregg, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hale, Hamilton, Hansford, Hardeman, Hardin, Harris, Harrison, Hartley, Haskell, Hays, Hemphill, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hill, Hockley, Hood, Hopkins, Houston, Howard, Hudspeth, Hunt, Hutchinson, Irion, Jack, Jackson, Jasper, Jeff Davis, Jefferson, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Johnson, Jones, Karnes, Kaufman, Kendall, Kenedy, Kent, Kerr, Kimble, King, Kinney, Kleberg, Knox, La Salle, Lamar, Lamb, Lampasas, Lavaca, Lee, Leon, Liberty, Limestone, Lipscomb, Live Oak, Llano, Lubbock, Lynn, Madison, Marion, Martin, Mason, Matagorda, Maverick, Mc Culloch, Mc Lennan, Mc Mullen, Medina, Menard, Midland, Milam, Mills, Montague, Montgomery, Moore, Morris, Motley, Nacogdoches, Navarro, Newton, Nolan, Nueces, Ochiltree, Oldham, Orange, Palo Pinto, Panola, Parker, Parmer, Pecos, Polk, Potter, Presidio, Rains, Randall, Reagan, Real, Red River, Reeves, Refugio, Roberts, Rockwall, Runnels, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, San Saba, Schleicher, Scurry, Shackelford, Shelby, Sherman, Smith, Somervell, Starr, Stephens, Sterling, Stonewell, Sutton, Swisher, Tarrant, Taylor, Terrell, Terry, Throckmorton, Titus, Tom Green, Travis, Trinity, Tyler, Upshur, Upton, Uvalde, Val Verde, Van Zandt, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Ward, Washington, Webb, Wharton, Wheeler, Wichita, Wilbarger, Willacy, Williamson, Wilson, Winkler, Wise, Wood, Yoakum, Young, Zapata, Zavala.