Attorney Trey Wilson - RL Wilson Law

17 August 2008


A landlord may prevent a Tenant from entering the leased premises only when rent is not completely paid (and the landlord follows very strict rules and promptly allows the Tenant back in the premises), in an emergency situation, to conduct a bona fide repair, or when the Tenant has abandoned the premises.

If a landlord changes a Tenant's door locks because of rent delinquency, the landlord must leave a written notice on the rental unit's front door describing where a new key may be obtained at any hour and must give the name and location of
the individual who will provide the Tenant with the new key. The LOCKOUT NOTICE must state the fact that the landlord must provide the key to the Tenant at any hour and the notice must state the amount of rent and other charges for which the tenant is delinquent. The new key must be provided immediately, or the notice must give the Tenant a telephone number that is answered 24 hours a day that the tenant may call to have a key delivered within two hours after calling the number. These rules apply no matter what any lease agreement says, and even if the landlord is closing-down the premises.

The landlord CANNOT remove a door, window, lock, doorknob, or any appliance furnished by the landlord because the tenant is behind on the rent, unless the removal is for repair or replacement (in which case, a lock, doorknob, or door should be repaired or replaced before nightfall).

If the landlord changes the door locks without leaving the required notice or without providing a new key or removes a door or other item improperly, a Tenant may terminate the lease or recover possession of the premises. In either case, it is sometimes possible for the Tenant to recover from the landlord actual damages, the
greater of one month's rent plus $500, plus reasonable attorney's fees and court costs, less any past due rent owed by the tenant. To regain access to the leased premises after a lockout, the Tenant should contact the manager, management company,
or owner for a new key. If the landlord or his agent refuses to provide a key, Tenants may go to the Justice of the Peace Court Precinct in which the property is located and request a "writ of reentry" which could order the landlord to provide the Tenant with a key to the premises, and even "possession."

Writs of Re-Entry may be obtained without even inviting the landlord to the hearing!

Tenants who have been illegally locked-out, and Landlords who feel that clever Tenants are manipulating the system to avoid paying rent deserve legal representation from a lawyer who knows Texas law relating to Lock Outs and Writs of Re Entry.

Call San Antonio Lawyer Trey Wilson at (210)223-4100 to discuss your landlord tenant issues.

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