Whether you need to end a lease early, take action because a tenant didn't pay rent on time, or you need to make repairs on your property, termination letters will likely be a part of the process.
Learning what to include in lease terminations and how to treat them under Texas law can make all the difference between the termination date going as planned or facing an unforeseen roadblock at the end of the notice period.
Take a look below at the insights you should bear in mind ahead of compiling a lease termination letter in Texas.
Lease Termination Letter
A Texas lease termination letter is a legally required document to bring about the end of a month-to-month lease in the Lone Star state.
While Texas laws will require at least one month of notice to be given for these kinds of agreements, none is necessary to end a specific term contract upon lease expiration.
Drilling deeper into the timeline requires reference to Section 91.001 of the Texas Property Code. Put simply, sufficient notice is required, and what this means will vary based on the rent-paying period.
For example, should the rent intervals be less than one month, which is typical of weekly rent agreements, the notice period must align with the rent-paying period. Similarly, month-to-month leases will have a one-month notice timeline.
While you are allowed to specify different notice requirements in your letter, the timeline must use the guidelines alluded to above at a minimum.
If you're looking to give notice to your tenants as a landlord, you must bear Texas law in mind as you do so. Consider the information below for the best possible outcome.
Sometimes, termination of the agreement may be necessary before the lease expires. This could be due to a violation of contractual terms or to the tenant's defaulting on rent payments. Under Texas law, a landlord cannot terminate a lease agreement for reasons retaliatory in nature.
Section 94.253 of the Texas Property Code outlines the circumstances under which you can terminate a lease early without it being considered retaliatory. These are:
- Criminal acts or serious misconduct
- Tenants, guests, or any other party invited causes property damage
- Holding over, with an Intent to Vacate provided by the tenant
- Delinquency in rent or other payments by the tenant that total at least a full month's rent
- A belief in good faith that a holdover tenant can be a hindrance to the calm enjoyment of other tenants or neighbors
- A material breach of the original lease terms has taken place besides holding over
- A tenant, guest, or other invitee is a threat to the personal safety of either the landlord, the landlord's employees, or other guests
Serving the Lease Termination Notice
No stipulation in Texas law speaks to how a Notice to Vacate should be served for month-to-month leases. Nevertheless, it's recommended to take appropriate measures to ensure it's delivered as intended.
You can do this by going the certified mail route and being sure to request a return receipt for the delivery. This will provide a written record that allows you to definitively establish the lease termination date.
Notice to Vacate
A Notice to Vacate tends to be required when a tenant has committed a breach. The principle is covered in Section 24.005 of the Texas Property Code. Put simply, this is what you would give the tenant before an eviction notice is filed.
Being specific is non-negotiable in this lease termination notice. You want to ensure you include the name of the tenant, the property address, and the reason the lease agreement is being ended.
Section 24.005 of the Texas Property Code also holds that if a tenant holds over or defaults on a lease, the landlord must provide at least three days’ written notice that the property is to be vacated. If the original lease specifies a different notice period, then that will be used.
This kind of lease termination notice has special requirements under Section 24.005 of the Texas Property Code. Your delivery options are:
- Certified mail with a return receipt requested
- Regular postal mail
- Affixing the notice on the inside of the main entry door
- Leaving the notice with someone living on the premises who is at least 16 years old.
Note that the notice can be put on the outside of the main entry door if delivery to the inside may constitute a safety concern.
Though you may not wish to end a lease early in some instances, you may also have no desire to renew it. In this case, Section 94.055 of the Texas Property Code will apply. It stipulates that you will need to provide the tenant with a notice of no less than 60 days before the lease's expiry date.
This time frame remains constant regardless of whether it is a fixed term or a month-to-month lease.
Military Special Rights
While not a Texas-specific law, you should bear the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) in mind when dealing with military members. First, under certain circumstances, service members will be allowed to terminate a lease early.
Additionally, servicemembers are afforded protections against both early terminations and evictions. For example, if there is a non-payment of rent because military service has inhibited the person's ability to pay, you may find enforcing a lease termination legally difficult.
Similarly, active military duty can hinder your ability to adequately enforce deadlines. You may be told by a Texas judge, for example, that an eviction notice cannot be enforced as active duty, preventing the service member from being actively notified.
Should a tenant claim SCRA protection, the landlord must be provided with a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders copy or deployment orders that span no less than 90 days.
Under Texas law, a landlord cannot just evict someone and look for a new tenant at will. The lease must always be terminated with notice. Even if the situation is such that you are not ending the lease early, you will still need to provide notice of no less than 60 days to inform the tenant that you will not be renewing the agreement at the end of its current term.
If you fail to follow the prescribed lease termination notice process, then the most annoying consequence of all will probably be the inability to reclaim your premises and seek a new tenant if desirable.
Beyond forcibly having the lease extended automatically against your desires, you may find yourself having to attend court proceedings considering it now becomes a legal matter. This will come with legal fees and potential financial penalties.
Termination of Tenancy
If there is no specific term and you wish to initiate the lease termination process, you will not be required to provide a reason as you draft your notice letter. Nevertheless, it's still essential to ensure that your motives are not retaliatory.
Based on Section 94.251 of the Texas Property Code, a landlord is not allowed to retaliate against a tenant who has complained about a property code violation to a government agency, attempted to exercise a right, or has issued a notice to have the property repaired.
Termination of Notice
Should a specific term be at play, landlords should revert to the information provided above depending on:
- The desire to engage in an early lease termination
- No desire to renew the lease when it ends
- Serving a Notice to Vacate following a breach
How to Write One
As is the case with most legal documents, you want your Texas lease termination written correctly to ensure that it affords the required protection. Remember the following:
- Think about the type of agreement you have. Is it a month-to-month lease or a standard one?
- The names of the parties are essential. Both landlord and tenant should be clearly identified.
- Put in the motive for the termination. Depending on the circumstances, it could be important to explain why the decision has been taken
- Ensure information about the lease agreement is present, such as when it began and the expected end date
- Include a forwarding address that will establish where the security deposit should go
- Sign the document before it goes to the tenant.
Build Your Own
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With DoorLoop, you can get your agreemenets eSigned in a few seconds. You can also get to the eSignature step much faster by creating reusable templates that are autofilled with tenants' information.
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For more information about DoorLoop, learn more or schedule a free demo.
The Bottom Line
When you want to initiate and enforce a Texas lease termination, you must ensure that you satisfy any legal requirements that may apply at the federal and state level. Additionally, you need a comprehensive form such as the ones provided by DoorLoop above!
Can a Landlord Legally End a Lease Agreement Early in Texas?
Yes. Under the right conditions such as property damage and criminal activity, among others, the landlord may opt for early termination.
What Is the Difference Between a Termination and an Eviction?
A Texas lease termination is typically on the more cordial side of the fence and indicates a lack of a desire to continue with a lease. An eviction comes into play to remove a tenant from a property.
Is It Legal to Force a Tenant to Leave a Property?
Yes, but you may only do so after a Notice to Vacate has been provided and there is a failure to comply with it.