With high demand for shelter in areas of Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey, some landlords are considering raising rent for intact properties. However, raising rents on current or prospective tenants may be considered price gouging, which is illegal.
Section 17.46(b)(27) of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act says it’s a false, misleading, or deceptive act or practice to take advantage of a disaster declared by the governor by selling, leasing, or demanding an exorbitant or excessive price for items like fuel, food, medicine, or another necessity. Rental housing would likely be considered a necessity under this law.
In addition, if a landlord is using TAR’s Residential Lease, he or she would be prohibited from raising rent during the primary term of the lease, and any increases during a renewal period must not be exorbitant or excessive.
Members of the Texas Association of REALTORS® can call the TAR Legal Hotline at 800-873-9155 with questions about the law against price gouging and related matters. Your prospects and clients can access legal resources related to Harvey from the State Bar of Texas at texasbar.com/disasters.