Texas Law: "Rent Must Still Be Paid on Damaged Dwellings"


"I suspect the county insists the landlords pay the property taxes."

@2 on an asset they OWN and can sell. Not on something they RENT but can't utilize.

Said property taxes of which in part help maintain infrastructure to keep the up value of the property and mitigate damage from things like, oh, say, floods.

Christ. What a stupid comment.

First off: Wrong. I AM a landlord! I own two commercial properties in Tacoma and one residential rental property in Skagit (Not to mention a couple of undeveloped properties that just suck money).

Second off: Your lame diversionary attempts at the "appeal to authority" logical fallacy are irrelevant to the facts at hand and the ethical issues presented.

Your comment was stupid as fuck and if anything exhibited an even more profound ignorance than usual.
Mudede, I love your urbanist posts! Always well researched, and informative. Thanks very much for writing these kinds of pieces. Ever think about writing books on urban planning topics in Seattle? The field could use your critical eye!
@1 wins. Shithole extraordinaire.

As is Florida - wait until the next wallop arrives in a few days.

And we stinky hated godless libruls will bail them out again.
@7 Hahah. Christ.

Of course they do. The Renter still has to pay their taxes too, dumbshit.

You're a logical fallacy machine. Literally nobody has claimed that property owners DON'T pay property taxes just because their property is damaged, Einstein.

They SHOULD pay taxes because the an asset owner and a renter of somebody else' assets are two entirely different classifications and have entirely different obligations.

Paying rent to a profit seeker like me and paying taxes to a maniple or state community are entirely different things.

I mean, sure it sucks when your property gets damaged. But it's sure a helluva lot easier for me than it is for my renters. I have so much more I can leverage financially than they do. And I would NOT push for rent of property my renters could not utilize.

But then again I'm not a heartless moron.
oops "municipal"
It should be noted, it's buried in Mudede's piece: The unit must be deemed habitable. That's a word with some legal meaning and a landlord cannot unilaterally declare the unit habitable for rent-seeking purposes. At a very minimum, heat, hot water, and electricity are all required. This won't be the case in units that were inundated; this is more likely for homes in higher-ground areas that received moderate storm damage but otherwise are in legitimate working condition.
Compounding the whole rent/mortgage issue is that fact that many people have not been able to go back to work yet. For an hourly worker, any missed hours = lost income. And if their places of work have been damaged or closed, they may be out of work for quite some time.

The Guardian helpfully linked to the law, you can read it for yourself (the pertinent section is 92.054; arguably applying only to insured damage, but I can't find a section on uninsured damage). It's pretty grim.

If "fire, smoke, hail, explosion, or a similar cause" renders the unit "as a practical matter totally unusable" then the tenant can break the lease, but must do so in writing.

If the unit is "partially unusable for residential purposes" then the tenant is only entitled to a reduction in rent, and that is only after a county or district court judgement.

I have no idea what the precedent on "partially unusable" and "totally unusable" might look like, but in both cases the landlord can keep on demanding rent if the tenant hasn't given written notice, or taken the landlord to court.

The law definitely looks like it's gone under the knife a few times, the sections that mention natural disasters (and hurricanes specifically) only cover odd corners that look like leftovers (allowable duration of lease after transfer to another unit owned by the landlord, allowable delay before repairs begin after damage)

In short, @1 appears to be correct: Texas is in fact a shithole, if you're a renter.

For that, there's federal Disaster Unemployment Insurance administered by the states. It's part of FEMA, but run separately from other direct FEMA assistance programs (presumably because some states already provide unemployment insurance).

It may or may not suck, I haven't dug into it. There are too many programs to keep up with in the alphabet soup of disaster relief...
Houston's (lack of) zoning is a coldly fascinating experiment with lots of stories that can be told, and I appreciate Charles' bringing it up in general, but is it part of the hurricane problem? Were they laissez faire on building into flood exposure? I'd love to hear more.
F*CK TEXAS. I wouldn't pay one red cent. Texas is full of a**holes who don't want to follow any rules or regulations, sue the federal government regularly, created a disaster way more dangerous and difficult to clean up than it would have been due to hazardous waste sites flooding and chemical plants blowing up. They want people to pay rent on uninhabitable apartments and homes? Eat sh*t. Texans expect everyone else to pay when they need help and insist everyone else go f*ck themselves. People who have lost everything have nothing to lose. Not paying their rent will not break them or destroy their lives, no matter what their a**hole landlords say.
Property taxes were due by the end of January so there isn't a reason to compare the two things unless you're just trying to be an asshole
@14 I have a friend who JUST closed on a Miami home last week. Let's just say, if you're in the path of a hurricane, you are better off renting than owning.
There's a lot of things wrong in this column and comments.

1) Uninhabitable home is well defined legally, and not up to a landlord to define. A home with a foot of water and the power out is not habitable. So basically the law is saying that you can't get out of your lease because of a storm which affected a neighbor.

2) Many landlords pay a mortgage and escrow for property taxes on a monthly basis, and could default if there's an unexpected stop in rent coming in. Default affects the dirty landlord, but it can also results in a tenant getting evicted, or a reduction in rental supply (which incrementally pushes rent up).

3) The reason flood insurance is not required and not widespread is because it's expensive. Especially in areas in the path of hurricanes. It can cost thousands per month. The poor folks who live/rent in the bayaus would need to pay the highest rates since properties built on low lying swamps are most likely to flood. Even so, flood insurance is subsidized massively by the government; no private insurer wants the risk. In an ideal world, we would build homes on bayaus or waterfront, or price the risk in from the beginning. But we don't have that.

4) Does high regulation, zoning and urban planning help to mitigate disasters. Sometimes, but it usually also increases the cost. Planners usually can't foresee everything and with changing climates, weather patterns will change too. IMO Houston was a pretty awful place before the hurricane, though you could live there relatively cheaply. Until you need to pay billions to cleanup The mistakes and your home becomes uninsurable.

Anyways, renters can just get the hell out of Dodge. If they care about their credit, they can work something out, but I expect worrying about credit scores is pretty low on the list.