Attorney Trey Wilson - RL Wilson Law

25 August 2008

Tenant Lock Out Rights in Texas. Is a Lockout the Same As An Eviction?

A Lockout Is Not An Eviction - It's a mechanism used to get the attention of the Tenant and to force them to contact management and make arrangements to pay any past due rent.

A landlord can lock out a Tenant for non-payment of rent for no more than two hours after the Tenant requests re-entry. There are multiple rules from the Texas property code that Landlords must follow:

1) They must give you written notice in your lease either in bold or underlined print that they reserve the right to lock you out for non-payment of rent or other fees. If you are late with your payment they then must again give written notice of past due rent and late fees and of their intent to lock you out.

2) They can not lock you out or change the locks while you or any or guest occupies the rental unit.

3) If your are locked out the landlord must return full access with 2 Hours of your request and can not require your to pay any rent amount or late fees before allowing you re-entry. If they do not allow access they are subject to prosecution on an criminal misdemeanor charges as well as civil fines and court cost. Under no circumstances tamper with or remove the landlords lockout device because they can fill criminal charges against you. If the property management company does not let you in and provide you with a new key within 2 hrs call 911 and ask them to send an officer to assist you to gain access and be sure to get an Incident number so you can be can not be prosecuted. This will also help with your case for cash damages of up to 1 months rent, plus $500 and Attorneys fees - minus any past due rent..

4) Your management company can not use "off duty" Police or Law enforcement officers to try to force you to allow them to change the locks or allow them to remove property that is subject to "A landlords Lien." If a police officer who is being paid or receiving compensation such as free or discounted rent cannot " Use The Color Of their Badge" to do the landlords bidding in relation to your nonpayment of rent, lockout or landlords liens. It is must certainly a conflict of interest and is subject to criminal prosecution for "Official Oppression" - Texas Penal Code - Section 39.03 for the Law Enforcement Officer. Both the landlord or the landlord's agent who instigates such action is also subject to civil and criminal prosecution.

If this happens do not step outside you door or allow the officer working as a security officer for the complex inside your apartment. They may try to arrest you " for disorderly conduct" or some other trumped up change that judges tend to give them the benefit of the doubt for.

In a non-treating voice inform them that their actions appear to be a "Conflict Of Interest" and are verging on "Official Oppression" and you want another police agency to intervene. Close the door and then you should then call 911 and ask them to send another law enforcement agency to send a supervisor and make a complaint for "Official Oppression" which is a federal and state civil rights violation. When the other agencies officer arrives allow him and him only into your residence and state your case, call the local Justice of the peace and ask him to speak to the officer. Always ask for an Incident report number for your compliant.

If you feel that you have been improperly locked-out, or that your landlord will not abide by the law without your resorting to Court attention, call a lawyer experienced with evictions, such as San Antonio attorney Trey Wilson of R L Wilson, P.C. Law Firm.

Trey Wilson --Named By Scene in SA Magazine As One of San Antonio's Best Real Estate Litigation Attorneys -- September 2008 -- As voted on by peers