If you’re a renter in Texas, there may be a clause in your lease you haven’t noticed: a landlord’s lien. The clause gives your landlord the right to come into your home and take your personal belongings if you fail to pay rent.
The process is authorized by state law as a way to recoup unpaid rent, but it’s not as simple as your landlord walking into your apartment and taking whatever he or she wants. There are specific rules for how landlords can enforce a lien, says Fred Fuchs, an attorney with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.
“A landlord’s lien is a provision in a lease agreement that has to be underlined or in bold print in order to be enforced,” he says.
Fuchs says a landlord can take a tenant’s property only because of unpaid rent – not past due utilities, maintenance or other costs. There are also restrictions on what exactly landlords can take. They can’t take a tenant’s clothing, food, medicine or family portraits, for example. But they can take TVs, musical instruments and furniture, with some exceptions.