My landlord removed the doorknob fixed on all the doors of the premises. What action can I take?

Full Question:

I live in Texas, in a two bedroom rented house. While I was in office yesterday, my landlord came to the premises and removed the door knob to all the doors. The doors were working just fine and they needed no repairs. I am not sure if the landlord did this to make me quit the premises or just to annoy me. Under the Texas landlord tenant laws, what action can I take against the landlord?
02/07/2017   |   Category: Landlord Tenant   |   State: Texas   |   #31680

Answer:

In Texas, per § 92.0081, the landlord is not permitted to remove a doorknob, or other mechanism connected to a door unless he does so for a bona fide repair or replacement. If the landlord violates § 92.0081 then the tenant may either recover possession of the premises or terminate the lease and recover from the landlord a civil penalty of one month's rent plus $ 1,000, actual damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney's fees. The relevant statutory provision in this regard is stated below.

Tex. Prop. Code § 92.0081 reads:
 
“(a) A landlord may not remove a door, window, or attic hatchway cover or a lock, latch, hinge, hinge pin, doorknob, or other mechanism connected to a door, window, or attic hatchway cover from premises leased to a tenant or remove furniture, fixtures, or appliances furnished by the landlord from premises leased to a tenant unless the landlord removes the item for a bona fide repair or replacement. If a landlord removes any of the items listed in this subsection for a bona fide repair or replacement, the repair or replacement must be promptly performed.
(b) A landlord may not intentionally prevent a tenant from entering the leased premises except by judicial process unless the exclusion results from:
     (1) bona fide repairs, construction, or an emergency;
     (2) removing the contents of premises abandoned by a tenant; or
     (3) changing the door locks on the door to the tenant's individual unit of a tenant who is delinquent in paying at least part of the rent.
***
(h) If a landlord violates this section, the tenant may:
     (1) either recover possession of the premises or terminate the lease; and
     (2) recover from the landlord a civil penalty of one month's rent plus $ 1,000, actual damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney's fees in an action to recover property damages, actual expenses, or civil penalties, less any delinquent rent or other sums for which the tenant is liable to the landlord.
(i) If a landlord violates Subsection (f), the tenant may recover, in addition to the remedies provided by Subsection (h), an additional civil penalty of one month's rent.
(j) A provision of a lease that purports to waive a right or to exempt a party from a liability or duty under this section is void.
(k) A landlord may not change the locks on the door of a tenant's dwelling under Subsection (b)(3):
     (1) when the tenant or any other legal occupant is in the dwelling; or
     (2) more than once during a rental payment period.”
 
Thus, you may either recover possession of the premises or terminate the lease and recover from your landlord one month's rent plus $ 1,000, actual damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney's fees.