Deposits have a lot of myths surrounding them, as well as renting in general. Austin Tenant’s Council lays out the facts about security deposits and other rental myths.
One myth surrounding deposits is that a landlord has to put the security deposit into an escrow account so it can be given over to the new owner if the property is sold. In reality, there is no Texas law that makes landlords use an escrow account for security deposit money and there is no automatic transfer of security deposits to new owners. But the new landlord is responsible for the return of deposits to tenants.
Another myth about deposits is that a tenant is entitled to automatically receive three times the security deposit plus $100 if they do not get the deposit within 30 days after moving out. In truth, while the law does say that a tenant can get those amounts, a tenant will only get more than the security deposit if a court rules that the landlord acted in bad faith.
Often, tenants believe in the myth that in the event of some sort of disastrous event that damages the tenant’s belongings (fire, hurricane, etc.), the landlord is responsible for replacing the damaged items. The truth is that unless the landlord is proven to be negligent, they have no obligation to repair or replace damaged belongings. You should purchase rental insurance to be sure you are covered in the case of catastrophe.
Misconceptions also exist surrounding a landlord’s lien. This myth is that a landlord cannot take a tenant’s belongings to pay for unpaid rent until the landlord files an eviction or goes before a judge. The truth is that if the lease includes a landlord’s lien, the landlord can go into the tenant’s apartment and remove items to pay for owed rent.
Another myth is that a landlord can lock a tenant out of an apartment until rent is paid. The truth is that the landlord can only change the lock on the unit if there is a lockout provision in the lease and advance notice is given.
Finally, the last myth the Austin Tenant’s Council dispels is that a landlord has no right to enter an apartment without the tenant’s permission. In actuality, most leases have a portion that states when a landlord can enter a dwelling without the tenant’s permission.