The tenant of a property I manage told me someone shattered a window while trying to break into his unit. He then sent me written notice of the broken window and is arguing that the landlord is obligated to pay for the repair because the damage was the result of a criminal act by a third party. I say the tenant has to pay for the repair. Which of us is right?

The answer depends on your lease. If you used Texas REALTORS® Residential Lease, then you are correct that the tenant must pay for the repair. Under Paragraph 18D(2) of the Texas REALTORS® Residential Lease, a landlord does not have to pay to repair damage to windows and screens unless the damage is caused by the landlord’s negligence. Therefore, the tenant is responsible for the cost of repairing the window, regardless of how the damage was caused (e.g., a break-in, an accident, or a tenant who deliberately broke the window because he or she was locked out). 

However, if you didn’t use the Texas REALTORS® lease or if your written lease doesn’t address this situation in the manner required by the Property Code, the broken window could be deemed a condition that materially affects the physical health and safety of an ordinary tenant and the landlord could be required to make a diligent effort to repair the window and ultimately be responsible for payment. 

The tenant for a property I manage has asked the landlord to replace the carpet in one room because she says it looks worn and needs repair. Does the landlord have to fulfill this request?

No. Neither the Texas Property Code nor the Texas REALTORS® Residential Lease would require a landlord to replace or repair something like this.

While Paragraph 18D(1) of the TAR Residential Lease states that the “landlord will pay to repair or remedy conditions in the property in need of repair if the tenant complies with the procedures for requesting repairs,” this does not mean that the landlord has the obligation to make every requested repair. Paragraph 18D(2) of the TAR Residential Lease states that a landlord will not pay to repair “items that are cosmetic in nature with no impact on the functionality or use of the item,” and a landlord could argue that worn carpet falls under this category. Additionally, Paragraph 18C(1) the TAR Residential Lease states that all decisions regarding repair will be at the landlord’s sole discretion.

A tenant notified me yesterday that his water heater stopped working. A repairman came to the property today, but the water heater requires a part that won’t arrive until tomorrow. The tenant is upset and wants the landlord to pay for a hotel room for tonight. Is the landlord obligated to do this?

No. Nothing in the Texas Property Code or TAR Residential Lease (TAR 2001) requires the landlord to put the tenant in a hotel while repairs are being made. A landlord isn’t obligated to provide alternative housing for a tenant based on a needed repair, even if that repair relates to a condition that could be construed as materially affecting the physical health and safety of the ordinary tenant.

If the landlord fails to make a diligent effort to remedy a condition that materially affects the physical health and safety of an ordinary tenant, the tenant’s remedies are found in Section 92.056 of the Texas Property Code.