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Commercial versus residential lockouts in Texas

Many states have housing statutes and ordinances that lean heavily towards favoring the renter. Texas law treats lease agreements differently. From the landlord's perspective, the largest advantage is probably in the power to handle tenants who are delinquent on rent.

Before any further discussion, it is important to note that eviction is a formal process. Landlords who attempt to take action against tenants without going through proper channels could be subject to various types of lawsuits. Even with that in mind, Texas put a relatively large amount of power in hands of its lessors.

Residential leases

Landlords have a great amount of leeway when it comes to dealing with delinquent renters. In fact, property owners can lock tenants out of the premises should rental checks stop appearing.

The state courts do not see this lockout as an eviction. However, landlords should be especially careful to follow all of the rules when it comes to lockouts, especially the posting of a notice explaining where a new key is available. It is also important to post the required advance warning of any lockout. Following all of the proper procedure often protects landlords from liability.

Commercial leases

Another point is that law differs considerably between commercial and residential leases. Landlords who perform lockouts on residential units must provide keys twenty-four hours a day or deliver them within two hours upon request. Those who lock commercial tenants out must only provide the key during the tenants' regular business hours. Furthermore, residential tenants do not need to pay delinquent rent in order to reclaim their keys, whereas commercial tenants do.

Any landlord moving from residential real estate to commercial projects may see this increased power as a benefit. However, it is often prudent to remember that commercial tenants could have much larger legal resources to draw upon than would average residential renters. Carefully documenting lockout activity for compliance and reviewing new laws before proceeding are both good ideas.

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