If a tenant files or prosecutes a suit for retaliatory action based on a complaint asserted under Section 92.331 (Retaliation by Landlord)(a)(3), and the government building or housing inspector or utility company representative visits the premises and determines in writing that a violation of a building or housing code does not exist or that a utility problem does not exist, there is a rebuttable presumption that the tenant acted in bad faith.
If a tenant files or prosecutes a suit under this subchapter in bad faith, the landlord may recover possession of the dwelling unit and may recover from the tenant a civil penalty of one month’s rent plus $500, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees. If the tenant’s rent payment to the landlord is subsidized in whole or in part by a governmental entity, the civil penalty granted under this section shall reflect the fair market rent of the dwelling plus $500.Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 869, Sec. 5, eff. Jan. 1, 1996.