Happy Birthday to the Texas Lockout Statute
NOTE: From all of us at Kessler Collins PC, accept a abundant Christmas and a Happy New Year. May 2015 accompany you acceptable tenants, able occupancy, accord and prosperity. If you accept a catechism that we can about-face into an article, amuse feel chargeless to acquaintance us.
I was a little accurate about autograph an commodity on what we accept appear to alarm the Texas “Lockout Statute,” actuality that it’s the ceremony division and who wants to lockout a toy abundance or allowance boutique at this time of year. On the added hand, 2014 is the 25th ceremony of this statute we accept all appear to apperceive and love, so what the heck — let’s accord it a shot.
The Lockout Statute is one of the best specimens of accommodation legislation that I accept seen. A accomplished eye can acquaint that Sections 93.002 and 93.003 of the Acreage Code was a adamantine fought accommodation amid bartering freeholder and addressee lobbies. While it gives landlords abundant power, it provides acceptable remedies to tenants if landlords do not accord able notices or accomplish lockouts after a approved basis.
CAVEAT-WE ARE DISCUSSING COMMERCIAL LOCKOUTS. THESE STATUTES DO NOT APPLY TO RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES
There are three affairs area a freeholder may exclude a addressee from the bounds after activity through a cloister — (1) bona fide repairs, construction, or an emergency; (2) removing the capacity of a bounds alone by a tenant; (3) alteration the aperture locks of a addressee who is behind in advantageous rent.
The aboriginal and additional affairs are not awfully arguable or coercive. The aboriginal one is mostly a assurance concern. The additional allows for alike abatement of capacity of an alone space. Practice point — aloof be abiding you can prove that the amplitude is alone afore you alpha removing property.
The third accident is the one that we see best often. Technically it is the alone accident that mentions the absolute alteration of locks. However, it does not beggarly you can change the locks aback the addressee is absolutely application the space. That implicates apocryphal imprisonment! Nor does it beggarly that you can change the locks for abuse of any added accouterment of a lease. It is artlessly a self-help antidote for one affectionate of abuse — abortion to pay rent.
On the added hand, the statute provides that a charter supersedes the statute to the admeasurement of any conflict. That is a bit confounding. It does not necessarily beggarly that a charter can aggrandize the awning of self-help remedies. Nor does it necessarily beggarly that a charter can abate the protections afforded to tenants beneath the law. Unfortunately, the courts accept not opined on what that accouterment means, so we are larboard to our own interpretations.
Most of you are accustomed with the claim that afore the freeholder may change the locks in a amplitude busy by a addressee who is behind in advantageous rent, it charge abode a apprehension on the tenant’s advanced aperture advertence the name and the abode or blast cardinal area a new key can be obtained. The key charge be provided during the tenant’s approved business hours and alone if the addressee pays the behind rent.
As a applied matter, alteration the locks will usually get the tenant’s absorption and aftereffect in acquittal of the behind rent, a fractional acquittal additional an acceding for acquittal of arrearage, or the tenant’s bankruptcy. If defalcation results, the freeholder will usually be appropriate to acquiesce the addressee aback in whether or not the aback hire has been paid.
Now let’s altercate addressee remedies — in a few circumstances, a addressee may booty advantage of a continued set of accoutrement which acquiesce it to go to amends of the accord cloister and access a “writ of reentry” for an actionable lockout. Few tenants who are behind in hire will be able to allow to go to court; and alike if a addressee does, it will accept to appearance that the lockout was unlawful.
A added adverse amends for a freeholder who violates the statute is the achievability of actuality on the arresting ancillary of a clothing for absolute amercement (e.g. accident of business), one month’s hire or $500 (whichever is more); advocate fees, and costs LESS behind hire or any added sums the addressee may owe the landlord. In addition, the addressee will get the best to aish the charter (and possibly abstain approaching rent) or balance control of the premises. No freeholder that I accept appear beyond wants to be put on the arresting end of a lawsuit; so, as I acclaimed at the alpha of this article, accomplish abiding you are appropriate afore you act.
The moral of this little adventure is to be accurate aback application this anatomy of self-help. It is a abundant remedy, but it can be a minefield. If you run into a problem, amuse booty affliction to acquaintance competent acknowledged admonition to abetment you.
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