Feb. 2, 2018
Has your landlord made promises but not delivered. Here are a few statements I've heard from tenants:
1. My landlord said I could rent-to-own;
2. My landlord said I would be able to eventually buy the house I'm in;
3. My landlord promises to help me qualify to buy the house I'm renting; or
4. I gave my landlord $10,000 as a down payment on the house I'm renting.
What's wrong with these statements? I can think of several violations under current Consumer Protection law, Landlord Tenant Act, Truth and lending laws as well as Texas Property Code Title 8? Landlord's responsibilities are numerous and are listed in the tenant's lease (a copy of which the landlord would have given the tenant). The landlord, even though he has been managing the home you are renting for many years and he/she may have promised many things, ultimately represents the home owner and not you and should have provided you with an Information about brokerage services. The first question your ask yourself as a tenant when the landlord is making promising on behalf of the seller is, has he/she disclosed his/her representation?
If a landlord is the agent of the seller and now want to act in a dual capacity to facilitate a sale of the rental to the tenant, he/she must obtain written consent from the seller and tenant/buyer to act as an intermediary and explain to both parties that they are giving up their right to undivided loyalty according to Texas Real Estate Commission.
As we are discussing buying the home your are renting, a landlord has a duty to notify you, in writing, that the home has or will be sold and often your lease gives you the "right of first refusal" which you can exercise if another potential purchaser submits an offer. A pitfall for potential renters/buyers that are not represented by their own separate real estate agent is when a landlord/owner offers to sell you the rental home when it's lender is in the process of foreclosing or the city is getting ready to foreclose for non payment of taxes. It is critical for tenants/buyers to beware of pending litigation or liens against the rental property so as not to be victimized by unethical real estate property managers and property owners. Have your agent read your lease for a "lease termination due to sale" clause. It will instruct the tenant how notice is to be delivered to the tenant and how much time the tenant has to move out. If you chose not to make an offer to purchase the rental home you are entitled to return of your security deposit subject to needed repairs and cleaning. Make sure to do a walk-through and take photos of the property before you return the keys. This will go a long way in proving what condition you left the home.
Additionally, landlord can't lock you out of your rental home even if you are behind in your rent, he /she can't shut off utilities, seize your property if you haven't abandoned it, and he/she can't retaliate against you if you are exercising your rights under the law.
Yvonne Russell, REALTOR® contributed to this post.
Disclaimer: this post does not constitute the giving of legal advice, and your reading this post does not create an attorney/client relationship This post is not intended to be exhaustive or substitute for legal advice. You are encouraged to consult a lawyer should you have questions about how this information may be applicable to your particular situation.