Skip to main content

Early Lease Termination for Victims of Family Violence

Protective Orders

This article tells you about your rights, under Texas law, to break a lease if you are the victim of family violence.

A tenant who experiences family violence (as defined by law) may be eligible to terminate their lease without penalty. 

Can I terminate my lease without penalty?

If you or someone in your home is a victim of family violence as defined by the Texas Family Code 71.004, you may be eligible to terminate your lease without penalty.  

Where can I find the law that governs this right?

Texas Property Code 92.016 gives victims of family violence the right to “vacate and avoid liability.” This means a victim of family violence may break their residential lease without penalty and in some cases without notice.

Will I be charged any fees or penalties?

No. A victim would not be responsible for future rent or fees related to breaking the lease. There is special language that must be in the lease before the landlord can collect any unpaid rent or other money that was already owed before the lease was terminated. The lease must say, “Tenants may have special statutory rights to terminate the lease early in certain situations involving family violence or a military deployment or transfer.” However, If the lease does not have this language in it, then the victim is not liable for unpaid rent that was due at the time the victim terminated their lease. 

What if the victim lives with me, are we eligible?

The victim must be living in your home with the landlord’s consent in order to be protected under the law. 

What if my landlord doesn’t allow it?

Landlords who do not allow the tenant to break the lease or who attempt to place barriers, conditions, or restrictions on the victim are breaking the law and are subject to a civil penalty of one month’s rent plus $500, damages, and they must pay the victim’s attorneys’ fee. 

Can a landlord make a lease that does not allow a family violence victim to break the lease?

No. A victim cannot waive her right to vacate. 

How do I end (terminate) my lease early?

To terminate your lease early you must do the following: 

  1. Have one or more of the following: 

  • a temporary injunction, issued as part of divorce proceeding that meets the terms of Texas Family Code  6.501

  • a temporary order, 
  • a protective order issued, 
  • an order of emergency protection under, 
  • a copy of documentation of the family violence against the tenant or an occupant from: 
    • a licensed health care services provider who examined the victim;
    • a licensed mental health services provider who examined or evaluated the victim; or 
    • an advocate as defined by Texas Family Code 93.001, who assisted the victim. 
  1. You must give the landlord a copy of one of the above documents or orders. 

  1. You must give the landlord written notice of your plans to terminate the lease at least 30 days before.  

  2. Leave the apartment/home on the date stated on the written notice. 

Do I have to give the landlord 30 days' advance notice?

Yes. However, if your abuser is a co-tenant or occupant of your residence, you do not have to give the landlord 30 day’s advance notice. You complete steps one and two and leave the apartment/home. Visit Texas Council on Family Violence and read it’s 30 Day Notice to Vacate for a template. 

Related Guides

  • I need a protective order.

    Protective Orders

    How to ask the court for protection from someone who has been violent or threatened to be violent.
  • Related Articles