Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, an interruption in electricity service is a big deal and a major inconvenience. These days, electricity is something we simply can’t live without.

But what are your rights when it comes to electricity service? This is something everyone should be educated about, and we’re here to help with that.

In this article, we will outline the Texas laws regarding when it is and isn’t okay to disconnect residential electricity, and what you can do if it happens to you.

Table of Contents

  • Is it Legal for a Landlord to Disconnect Electricity?
  • Can a Landlord Turn Off Electricity in Texas if Electricity Service Is Registered in the Tenant’s Name?
  • Can a Landlord Turn Off Electricity in Texas if Electricity Service Is Under the Landlord’s Name?
  • Legal Process for a Landlord to Have Electricity Service Interrupted
  • Under What Conditions Can a Landlord Never Turn Off Electricity Even if It’s in Their Name?
  • How to Restore Service if Your Landlord Has Illegally Turned Off Your Electricity in Texas
  • Available Tenant Remedies for Unlawful Electricity Interruption
  • Explore Available Electricity Plans With Gexa Energy

Is it Legal for a Landlord to Disconnect Electricity?

For the most part, it is not legal for a landlord to disconnect your electricity. There is a very small legal window for landlords to do this, and it only applies when they pay for the electricity themselves and receive repayment from their tenants.

Let’s look further into when your electricity can and cannot be turned off, and what details go into that.

Can a Landlord Turn Off Electricity in Texas if Electricity Service Is Registered in the Tenant’s Name?

A landlord may threaten to turn off utilities if a tenant is late on rent or as retaliation for some other problem, but if the electricity account is in the tenant’s name, the landlord has no legal means to do so.

Texas Property Code states that a landlord cannot turn off your electricity as a punishment or retaliation for non-payment of rent.

If tenants are behind on their rent and not willing to work with the landlord to make restitution, the only legal course of action for the landlord is to begin eviction proceedings — NOT to turn off utilities.

Exception: Repairs, Construction, and Emergencies

The exception to this code is if it is necessary to turn off the electricity due to extenuating circumstances.

For example, if your home needed work on its wiring systems, your electricity would have to be turned off until the repairs were completed.

Also, if construction were being done on your building, that could lead to the power being shut off for a while.

Finally, in the event of an emergency such as severe weather or other threats to public safety, electricity companies may decide to turn off service temporarily as a precaution.

In each of these cases, your electricity is only off for the amount of time necessary and then restored as soon as possible.

Can a Landlord Turn Off Electricity in Texas if Electricity Service Is Under the Landlord’s Name?

There are specific instances when a landlord may turn off the electricity of a tenant-occupied property. 

As of September 2013, if the account is in the landlord’s name and is being submetered or allocated to the tenant’s property, the electricity can be turned off only in cases where the tenant has failed to pay that specific bill.

The landlord may not turn off the electricity as retribution for unpaid rent or other expenses.

In other words, if you pay your landlord directly for electricity and your rent has not been paid but your electricity bill has been paid in full, your landlord cannot turn off your electricity.

Legal Process for a Landlord to Have Electricity Service Interrupted 

Even though the law states that landlords do have the option to turn off electricity for nonpayment of services, there are strict rules about how it will happen and what conditions must be met.

The following steps must occur before a landlord may turn off the electricity:

  1. The landlord’s right to interrupt electric service must have been included in the written lease entered into by the tenant.
  2. The tenant’s electric bill hasn’t been paid by the 12th day after the date it was issued.
  3. Advance written notice of the interruption has to be delivered by hand or mail separate from any other written content. It must prominently display the words ELECTRICITY TERMINATION NOTICE (or similar language) and provide specific information about things such as:
    1. The date that the shut-off will occur

    2. Where the tenant can make payment

    3. The amount that must be paid; and

    4. Other important details

If the tenant still doesn’t pay the electric bill after these actions occur, the landlord must deliver another notification at the same time service is interrupted outlining steps to correct the problem.

The landlord also must provide notice that they cannot evict the tenant for nonpayment of the electricity bill when service has been interrupted until two business days later.

Under What Conditions Can a Landlord Never Turn Off Electricity Even if It’s in Their Name?

Fortunately, there are extenuating circumstances in which landlords are not allowed to turn off electricity, even if it’s in their name and nonpayment has occurred. 

Unless there is a dangerous condition or the tenants themselves have requested disconnection, the electricity cannot be turned off if the following conditions are in place.

If Loss of Electricity Will Lead to Illness or More Severe Illness 

Tenants who are going through a serious illness that requires electricity for treatment or comfort cannot legally have their electricity turned off due to nonpayment. 

If you will become ill or more ill due to an interruption in electricity, you can have a … 

  • Physician
  • Nurse
  • Nurse practitioner; or
  • Another similar healthcare professional

… provide a written statement to the landlord or representative that says the interruption of electric service will present a danger to your health.

If There Is or Will Be Inclement Weather

When specific extreme weather conditions are met, it is illegal to turn off your electricity.

If …

  • The temperature from the day before was below freezing and the National Weather Service predicts the same for the next 24 hours; or
  • They issue a heat advisory for the county of the residence in question

… the electricity must be left on no matter the payment status.

There are also emergency situations, such as severe Texas winter storms, where the government may issue a moratorium on utility shutoffs.

If the Tenant Is Receiving Energy Assistance

A landlord is not allowed to interrupt electric service to a tenant who gets (or will get) energy assistance for a billing period during which the landlord receives a …

  • Pledge
  • Letter of intent
  • Purchase order; or
  • Other notification

… that the assistance provider is forwarding sufficient payment to continue service.

How to Restore Service if Your Landlord Has Illegally Turned Off Your Electricity in Texas

If a landlord has ignored the statutes and turned off electricity when he or she legally should not have done so, there are ways for you to have service restored. 

File a Sworn Complaint

You may file a sworn complaint with a Justice of the Peace in the property’s precinct establishing the violation.

You must also state under oath the facts of the charges before the JP court. 

Receive a Writ of Restoration

If the Justice of the Peace believes the allegations made, the JP may issue a writ of restoration of the utility services without a hearing. This will be temporary pending a final hearing.

The writ is served to the:

  • Landlord
  • Landlord’s management company
  • On-premise manager; or
  • Landlord’s rent collector

If the landlord doesn’t request a hearing within seven days of service, the justice may hold the landlord accountable for court costs.

Either party may appeal the judgment on the complaint.

Available Tenant Remedies for Unlawful Electricity Interruption

If a landlord does terminate service without cause, you are eligible for possible compensations. These include:

  • Possession of the premises or ability to terminate the lease
  • A sum equal to the tenant’s actual damages
  • One month’s rent plus $1000; and
  • Attorney fees and court costs

If there are delinquent rents or other amounts that you owe the landlord, these funds will be deducted from the recovery.

Explore Available Electricity Plans With Gexa Energy

We at Gexa Energy hope you never have to deal with a landlord-tenant dispute when it comes to your energy charges. 

We also want to provide you with the ability to find a low price electricity plan for your home or business that will help prevent you from getting into such a situation in the first place.

At Gexa, we let you compare and shop for electricity plans and choose the one that’s right for you. You may want to:

  • Choose a plan based on your usage
  • Try the Gexa Energy Saver Plan and receive two free Smart Thermostats; or
No matter which plan you choose, you’ll have our Happiness Guarantee* to fall back on if you’re not satisfied.

And best of all, our plans are 100% green!

Contact us today and find out why our customers stick with us.

* Happiness Guarantee - If you’re not happy with your new Gexa Energy residential plan, just call us within 60 days of your service activation date, change to another available Gexa Energy plan, and we’ll waive the early cancellation fee on your first plan; applies one time only for new Gexa Energy residential customers. Your contract term will restart with your second plan. Offer subject to change or withdrawal prior to customer acceptance.

Additional eligibility requirements, terms and conditions may apply. Gexa reserves the right to modify or discontinue offers at any time.

Gexa Energy purchases renewable energy credits (RECs) from renewable generation resources throughout North America to match 100% of the energy sold under your electric plan.  The RECs Gexa purchases represent the renewable attributes of power generated from a variety of renewable energy sources, including, but not limited to, the sun, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, wave or tidal energy, and biomass or biomass-based waste products, including landfill gas.

This content is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should not act upon the information provided without first consulting with an attorney.