What is a tenant’s recourse if their landlord shut offtheir utilities?

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What is a tenant’s recourse if their landlord shut offtheir utilities?

I have an active 6 month lease that ends in 3 week. Landlord took me to court for non-payment of rent. 3 days before the trial he had my gas and water, paid by him, cut off without a legal court order. It is 8 degrees in my apartment right now because I have no heat. What should I do? I have already printed out the necessary violations from the TX Property Code in reference to this situation and am gathering written letters from outside companies on my behalf. I will be filing a suit. What am I entitled to in this case?

Asked on February 2, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Landlords cannot shut off a tenant's utility services, such as electricity, gas or heat unless they must do so temporarily to make repairs. Thus, landlords cannot shut off utilities to encourage a tenant to move (i.e. evict them). If a landlord wishes to evict a tenant, they must go to court and get an eviction order rather than simply shutting off utilities.

If the landlord violates the tenant's rights regarding eviction, the tenant may sue. If the tenant demonstrates that the landlord violated their rights, the court may order that the landlord pay the tenant 1 month's rent, attorney's fees, and damages. However, if the tenant owes rent, the court has the discretion to subtract the amount of delinquent rent from the tenant's monetary award.


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