This article is reproduced from material by the Texas Council on Family Violence and was updated on December 4, 2019, for clarity and to include a legislative update.
What documents do you need if you are being abused and need to move out of a rented home?
If you are living with an abuser in a rental property in Texas, you have the right to terminate your lease without penalty by providing your landlord a copy of a protective order or a temporary injunction to stop family violence within a divorce.
To get help, properly leave the residence, and avoid liability for rent, Texas Property Code 92.016(b-1) the tenant must provide the following things to the landlord:
- a copy of one or more of the following orders protecting the tenant or an occupant from family violence:
- 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 Section 93.001, Family Code, who assisted the victim.
Public Housing and Family Violence
If you live in public housing, project-based Section 8 housing, or are in the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8), a landlord or Public Housing Authority (PHA):
- Cannot deny you housing assistance or admission to public housing solely because you are a victim of family violence.
- Cannot terminate your housing assistance because you are a victim.
- Cannot evict you because you are a victim.
- Cannot sexually harass you. (He or she may not create a hostile living environment for you or demand sexual favors in exchange for housing assistance or repairs.)
- Must honor any court order, such as a protective order, that addresses access to or control of the property.
- May remove your abuser from the lease or your voucher, while allowing you to stay.
- Must maintain the confidentiality of any information or documents you provide.
- Must allow you to transfer your voucher to another jurisdiction for your safety.
Who do I talk to if my landlord violated my rights as a family violence victim?
If you believe you have been wrongfully denied assistance, receive notice that your voucher is being terminated, or you receive an eviction notice:
- Request an appeal hearing in writing before the deadline listed on the notice.
- Consult with a housing attorney immediately.
- For referrals, call 2-1-1 or use TexasLawHelp's legal help finder tool.
Can victims of family violence who rent their homes in Texas call the police?
If you are a victim of family violence renting in Texas, you have the right to seek police or emergency assistance in response to family violence at any time. A landlord cannot evict or penalize you for the presence of police or emergency assistance at your residence due to family violence. A landlord cannot ask you to waive this right in a lease or at any point.
Finding a Family Violence Program Near You
To finding a family violence program near you, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE or 800-787-3224 (TTY).
The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice.This project was supported by Award No. WF-04-V30-14108-09 awarded by the State of Texas, Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Family Violence Program.
Certification of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence or Stalking Form
If you are seeking VAWA protections from your housing provider, your housing provider may give you a written request that asks you to submit documentation about the incident or incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
In response to this request, you or someone on your behalf may complete this optional form and submit it to your housing provider,
Click the link below for a form to help you execute on your rights as a victim of domestic violence.
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