Have you ever wondered who really owns your apartment? The Austin Tenants Council provides advice on how to find out, and why you should know.
“A landlord must provide a tenant with the name and address of the owner(s), as well as the name and address of the management company if it is located off-site. Subchapter E of Chapter 92 of the Texas Property Code guarantees the right of a tenant to receive this information and explains how to request it.
Another way to discover the owner’s name and address without having to use the process below is to contact the tax appraisal office in the county where the property is located. This information is often available on the Internet. For the Travis Central Appraisal District, visit www.traviscad.org.
How to Get the Name and Address of the Owner
A tenant can ask the landlord or manager for ownership information, but the landlord only has to provide it if the tenant is current on rent. If the tenant has a written lease, the lease can require that the request be in writing. Because verbal requests are difficult to prove, it is usually best to make requests in writing and keep a copy for your records, whether or not the lease requires it. The landlord has seven days to provide the requested information.
The landlord can do this in several ways. The first is by providing the tenant with the names and addresses in writing. Another way is to continuously post the information in a conspicuous place in the dwelling or in or near the management office. The landlord can also include the information in the tenant’s lease or in written rules and regulations.
What if the Landlord Refuses?
If the landlord does not provide the information by one of the three methods listed above, the tenant can give the landlord or manager a second notice in writing informing the landlord that if the information is not provided in seven more days the tenant may exercise remedies under Subchapter E of Chapter 92 of the Texas Property Code. This notice must be in writing even if the first request was not and should either be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested or hand-delivered with a witness. If the landlord does not comply with the request by the eighth day after receipt of the notice, the tenant can exercise the remedies listed in the section “What Remedies Does the Tenant Have?”
Corrections to Ownership Information
The landlord must correct the name and address of the owner or off-site management company whenever there is a change. Corrections can be provided individually or by posting the information in the dwelling or in or near the management office. The landlord can also amend the ownership information in the rental agreement or written rules and regulations and provide the tenant with a copy. If the landlord fails to provide the corrected information by the eighth day after receiving a written demand that states the tenant may exercise remedies under Subchapter E of Chapter 92 of the Texas Property Code, the tenant can exercise the remedies listed below.
Other Aspects of the Law
If the tenant’s rent is not paid in full when requesting disclosure of ownership or management, the landlord has a defense to liability. However, if the landlord, in bad faith, provides incorrect information, the landlord would not have a defense to liability.
If either the tenant or the landlord files suit in court to harass the other person, they can be held liable for a civil penalty of one month’s rent plus $100 and attorney’s fees.
A tenant cannot waive the right to ownership and management information. This means that any lease provision which states that the landlord does not have to disclose this information is void.
What Remedies Does the Tenant Have?
The tenant can file suit in court to obtain a court order directing the landlord to disclose the owner’s and/or the off-site management’s name and address. The tenant can also file for a judgment of the tenant’s actual costs, a civil penalty of one month’s rent, $100, and court costs and attorney’s fees;
Unilateral termination of the lease without a court proceeding.
The information in this brochure is a summary of the subject and other pertinent matters. It should not be considered conclusive or a substitute for legal advice. Unique facts can render broad statements inapplicable. Anyone needing legal assistance should contact an attorney.”