A Texas Lease or Rental Application is a form used by Texas landlords to screen and vet potential tenants to determine whether they are reliable and able pay rent in a timely manner.
A standard Rental/Lease Application provides a landlord with the opportunity to screen for any red flags a tenant may raise, ranging from credit history to past employment references.
Texas Rental Application Statistic/Specifics
In the landmark 2015 Supreme Court case Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., the Court held that a disparate impact was included in the Fair Housing Act. The ruling enforced that a disparate impact, an adverse effect on a protected class of persons from a practice conducted in a formally neutral and non-prejudicial manner, was covered under the Fair Housing Act.
Texas imposes/requires unique requirements on landlords screening potential/future tenants and tenant’s rights under the screening process. For example, Texas statute provides for the following:
Rejection of Application
A Texas landlord is presumed to have given notice of rejection or acceptance of a rental application when they have informed the applicant by telephone or sent a written notice in the mail.
Failure to Disclose
A landlord may reject a rental application when an applicant fails to disclose complete or accurate information.
Landlords are prohibited from retaliating against tenants who complain in good faith about necessary repairs for a period of six months from the complaint.
Under the Fair Housing Act, it is illegal for anyone to intimidate, threaten, coerce, or interfere with anyone asserting a fair housing right or helping others assert their right.
Generally, Texas does not require an application fee, but most landlords won’t consider the rental application without it. The fee is used by the landlord to run a background check and usually ranges from $15-$30.
Rejection of Application
If a landlord rejects an applicant without adhering to Fair Housing screening, then the landlord must return the application fee and any application deposit.
Timeframe to File Complaint
A housing applicant should file a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division within 365 calendar days of the alleged discrimination.
The Texas Workforce Commission shall investigate all discrimination complaints within one-hundred (100) days of the filing of the complaint. (§301.083)
Landlords may not discriminate against applicants based on familial status, where a child under the age of eighteen (18) lives with a parent, legal guardian, or designee of the parent or legal guardian.
3. Federal Law
No matter the state, all landlords are required under the federal Fair Housing Act not to discriminate against future and potential tenants based on:
- Color of skin
- Familial status
- National origin
Landlords are however allowed to screen and vet tenants based on objective criteria that doesn’t discriminate against a fundamental right. Landlords are allowed to inquire about certain things in order to make sure the future tenant is reliable, trustworthy, and able to pay rent. They are legally able to inquire about a tenant’s:
- Current and past employer’s contact information
- Credit history
- Salary details and proof of income
- Criminal history
- Past eviction and rental history
- Sex offender status
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA) and subsequent 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act provides guidance on tenant credit inquiry and reporting by landlords and sellers. Both laws require:
A landlord must give oral, written, or electronic notice of any adverse or negative action taken by them after reviewing the tenant screening report.
Consumer Report Details
A landlord must provide the name and contact information of the consumer reporting agency that issued the credit report. A landlord also must disclose important information in the report including numerical information and the credit score.
Copy and Opportunity to Dispute
A landlord must provide the potential tenant with a copy of the report, and an opportunity to dispute the veracity and accuracy of it.