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A Guide to the Eviction Process in Texas

guide-to-the-texas-eviction-processTexas landlord-tenant law requires that landlords follow the law when evicting tenants from their rented premises. You must not engage in illegal eviction methods, such as self-help, retaliatory, or discriminatory evictions. 

No matter the tenant’s violation, you must always remain a law-abiding landlord from start to finish.

Whether you’re looking to evict a tenant or familiarize yourself with Texas eviction laws, this blog has you covered!

What’s the Eviction Process in Texas? 

Under the Texas law, to begin the eviction procedure against a tenant, you must first have a legitimate reason. Landlords in Texas can evict tenants for a myriad of reasons, including failing to pay rent, violating a lease agreement term, or engaging in illegalities within the rental unit. However, under the Fair Housing Act, you cannot evict a tenant based on discriminatory reasons such as gender or race.

Next, you must terminate the tenant’s lease agreement by serving them an eviction notice. For example, if the tenant fails to pay rent on time, you can terminate their lease or rental agreement by serving them a 3-Day Notice to Quit.

This will give the tenant up to 3 days to vacate the premises. If they don’t, you can move on to the next phase of the eviction process, which is filing an eviction lawsuit.

In Texas, you’ll need to file the eviction lawsuit in the appropriate Justice of the Peace Court. The court will then create a citation that will need to be served to the tenant by a process server. Next, an eviction hearing will be held. This eviction hearing will usually occur 10-21 days after filing the lawsuit with the court. 

law-and-order

If the tenant is a no-show, the court will rule in your favor by default. Consequently, you’ll be issued with a writ of possession within 6 days of the ruling. The writ will be the tenant’s final notice to vacate the premises.

At this point, if the tenant refuses to leave, the sheriff will have to forcefully remove or vacate them from your property.

Notice for Lease Termination with Legal Cause

As previously mentioned, Texas landlords can evict tenants for certain allowable reasons such as lease violations. They include the following.

  • Failing to pay rent
  • Refusing to leave after the lease or rental agreement ends
  • Conducting a lease violation

You must then serve the tenant with an appropriate notice. Below are examples of eviction notices in Texas with their legal reasons:

  1. 3-Day Notice to Quit – Failure to pay rent when it falls due.
  2. 1-Month Notice to Quit – Tenants without a lease or those on a month-to-month lease.
  3. 3-Day Notice to Quit – Lease voilations, such as keeping an unauthorized pet or causing damage beyond normal wear and tear.

Serving a Tenant with an Eviction Notice in Texas

Serving the tenant with an notice of eviction is key to the overall success of the process. You’ll want to avoid the following mistakes when it comes to eviction notices.

  • Serving the wrong notice: Different eviction notices serve different purposes. You’ll want to serve the tenant a specific notice depending on the specific violation they have committed.

tenant-signing-a-form

  • Serving the written notice improperly: There are legal ways you must use when delivering a notice of eviction to a tenant. Simply handing it over to the tenant won’t suffice.
  • Lacking crucial details: An eviction notice must have specific information. For instance, the reason for the eviction, the notice period, and what the tenant must do within the notice period to avoid eviction.

The following are the methods that Texas landlords must use when delivering eviction notices to tenants.

  • Hand delivery.
  • Leaving the notice with a person who’s at least 16 years old and part of the tenant’s household.
  • Posting the notice on a conspicuous area on the property, such as on the front door.
  • Delivering the notice to the tenant by certified or registered mail.

Tenant Eviction Defenses in Texas

Under Texas law, tenants have a right to respond to an eviction complaint. They must do so within 14 days of receiving the eviction complaint. The following are some of the defenses the tenant may give in their response.

  •  The eviction notice had errors. For example, it was inappropriate, or failed to mention the effective date of lease termination.
  • The allegations are untrue. For instance, in case of nonpayment of rent, the tenant may show receipts showing they paid on time.

tenants-moving-out

  • The eviction process was illegal. As a landlord, you must not try to remove the tenant through illegal means, such as locking them out of the rental unit or removing their personal belongings. Doing such things will cause the eviction process to fail. The tenant may also sue you for illegal eviction.
  • The eviction process was in retaliation to the tenant exercising a legal right.
  • The eviction process was due to the tenant’s protected class, such as race, color, religion, or nationality.

These defenses may delay or even entirely stop the eviction process. That’s why landlords need to follow the process down to the letter. Advisedly, you may want to hire a qualified lawyer or an experienced property management company to handle everything for you.

Attending Court Hearing

Eviction hearings in Texas usually take place 10-21 days after a landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court.

If the tenant fails to appear, the court will issue a default judgment in the landlord’s favor. The court will then issue you with a Writ of Possession. This will give you back possession of the property.

The tenant will have 24 hours to leave after they are served with the writ of possession. If they still refuse to leave, the sheriff will have to forcefully evict them from the property and return the possession back to you.

Conclusion

There are no two ways when it comes to the tenant eviction process in Texas. As a landlord, you must follow the due process under the law. 

If you have a question or need expert help in managing your Houston property, Real PM Prestige can help. We have over 30 years of proven industry experience. Get in touch to learn more!

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in this blog is intended for general guidance and should not be considered as a replacement for professional legal advice. It is important to be aware that laws pertaining to property management may change, rendering this information outdated by the time you read it.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

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