Locks and other security devices are required by law to be on an apartment or other dwelling, under Texas Property Code. The Austin Tenants’ Council outlines what security devices are required by law.
Every rental in Texas has to have: one window latch on each each outer window, a doorknob lock or keyed deadbolt on each outer door, a keyless deadbolt on each outer door, a peephole on each outer door, and a pin lock and either a handle latch or a security bar on each outer sliding glass door. Also, the property manager must change or rekey locks within a week of a new tenant moving in.
If a landlord fails to follow these steps and provide these locks, a tenant can install the security device(s) and/or rekey them and then deduct the cost from the next month’s rent and file a suit against the landlord for compliance. If the landlord still fails to comply with the court order, a tenant can terminate their lease and file in court against the landlord.
A tenant can ask that locks be rekeyed or replaced after a break-in or attempted break-in in the apartment or in the complex within the last two months. The landlord has three days to fulfill the request. Even though the landlord is required to rekey or replace the security devices, the tenant has to pay for them.
If the landlord doesn’t comply with the request within a week, the tenant can again go ahead and do it themselves and deduct the cost from rent, terminate the lease or file a suit against the landlord.
If you are going to request a security device or a rekeying, be sure to do it in writing, by mail to the landlord via certified mail, return receipt requested.