Utilities

Can the landlord turn off my utilities?

A landlord cannot interrupt a tenant’s utility service (water, wastewater, or gas) unless it is for repairs, construction or an emergency — regardless of how the tenant pays for the utility service.  If you pay an electric company for electricity, the landlord also can’t interrupt your electricity, but if your landlord pays the electricity and you pay them back for it (master meter), they can turn off your electricity if you do not pay the landlord for the electricity, and the landlord gives you a notice that says they will terminate your electricity. That notice has certain requirements that you can find in Section 92.008 of the Texas Property Code. 

The landlord cannot turn off your electricity if it will make you, or someone residing in the dwelling, seriously ill or more seriously ill and you give the landlord a written statement from your physician, nurse or other health care practitioner that you or another person in the unit will become seriously ill or more seriously ill if the electric service is cut off and you enter into a deferred payment plan with the landlord.  See section 92.008(j), Texas Property Code. Other conditions also apply. See 92.008(k), (l). 

The landlord cannot charge you more than $10 for reconnecting electricity and can only charge you if the lease states the exact dollar amount of the reconnection fee.

If your utility service was disconnected by a landlord illegally, you have the right to request the justice court to immediately issue an order, called a writ of restoration, to require the landlord to reconnect the service (Section 92.0091, Property Code).  You can also file a separate lawsuit  for an amount equal to the sum of your actual damages + one month’s rent + $1,000 + attorney’s fees and court costs, minus any delinquent rent or other sums you owe to the landlord. You can also legally terminate your lease if you want to. 

Can I stop the utility company from turning off my utilities because the landlord has not paid the utility bill?

If the utility service has or is about to be shut-off because the landlord has failed to pay the utility company, then you have rights to take legal action against the landlord, and you may be able to use your rent to stop any threatened cutoff. Section 92.301, Texas Property Code.