Texas Property Code § 92.016. Right to Vacate and Avoid Liability Following Family Violence

(a) For purposes of this section:

(1) “Family violence” has the meaning assigned by Section 71.004, Family Code .

(2) “Occupant” means a person who has the landlord's consent to occupy a dwelling but has no obligation to pay the rent for the dwelling.

(b) A tenant may terminate the tenant's rights and obligations under a lease and may vacate the dwelling and avoid liability for future rent and any other sums due under the lease for terminating the lease and vacating the dwelling before the end of the lease term if the tenant complies with Subsection (c) and provides the landlord or the landlord's agent a copy of one or more of the following orders protecting the tenant or an occupant from family violence:

(1) a temporary injunction issued under Subchapter F  1, Chapter 6, Family Code;

(2) a temporary ex parte order issued under Chapter 83, Family Code;  or

(3) a protective order issued under Chapter 85, Family Code.

(c) A tenant may exercise the rights to terminate the lease under Subsection (b), vacate the dwelling before the end of the lease term, and avoid liability beginning on the date after all of the following events have occurred:

(1) a judge signs an order described by Subsection (b);

(2) the tenant provides a copy of the relevant documentation described by Subsection (b) to the landlord;

(3) the tenant provides written notice of termination of the lease to the landlord on or before the 30th day before the date the lease terminates;

(4) the 30th day after the date the tenant provided notice under Subdivision (3) expires;  and

(5) the tenant vacates the dwelling.

(c-1) If the family violence is committed by a cotenant or occupant of the dwelling, a tenant may exercise the right to terminate the lease under the procedures provided by Subsection (b)(1) or (3) and Subsection (c), except that the tenant is not required to provide the notice described by Subsection (c)(3).

(d) Except as provided by Subsection (f), this section does not affect a tenant's liability for delinquent, unpaid rent or other sums owed to the landlord before the lease was terminated by the tenant under this section.

(e) A landlord who violates this section is liable to the tenant for actual damages, a civil penalty equal in amount to the amount of one month's rent plus $500, and attorney's fees.

(f) A tenant who terminates a lease under Subsection (b) is released from all liability for any delinquent, unpaid rent owed to the landlord by the tenant on the effective date of the lease termination if the lease does not contain language substantially equivalent to the following:

“Tenants may have special statutory rights to terminate the lease early in certain situations involving family violence or a military deployment or transfer.”

(g) A tenant's right to terminate a lease before the end of the lease term, vacate the dwelling, and avoid liability under this section may not be waived by a tenant.

1 V.T.C.A., Family Code § 6.501 et seq.

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