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A Guide to the Eviction Process in Temple, Texas

No matter how good a screening process is, there may come a time when a landlord will need to evict a tenant from their Texas property. And when that time comes, a landlord will want to be familiar with the Texas eviction process. 

In this article, we will go over the proper process for eviction in Texas, as you must follow eviction laws at all times. From start to finish, you should expect the process to take you anywhere between a month and three months. Keep reading for a comprehensive overview of Texas eviction laws. 

Proper Notice for Lease Termination with Legal Cause 

According to Texas landlord-tenant law, you can evict tenants for a variety of reasons. These reasons include if a tenant violates the written lease or rental agreement, refuses to pay rent, or fails to move out after the lease or rental agreement expires. The type of notice to use depends on the reason for lease termination

3-Day Notice to Vacate or Quit

If a tenant pays rent consistently or fails to pay it all together, the landlord can begin the Texas eviction suit. Start by serving them with a notice to vacate or quit. But, when doing so, check their current lease or rental agreement and see if federal protections are in place as these can impact the notice period. 
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The notice can usually give the tenant between 3 – 30 calendar days to pay all due rent or move out depending on the type of agreement they have and whether or not federal protections are in place. If the tenant pays rent, great! However, if they don’t pay the rent and continue living in the rental unit, a landlord may begin filing a complaint in court. 

Justice figurine holding a scale symbolizing the law

The property owner can also use this notice to vacate if there is a lease violation by a tenant who breaks the terms specified in their lease. For example, abiding by the pet policy, not subletting the unit illegally, or not disturbing the peace of other tenants. The notice to vacate gives the tenant three calendar days to leave the premises. Unlike in some other states, a notice to vacate in Texas the tenant doesn’t get the option to cure the violation. 

1-Month Notice to Quit

This notice specifically applies to tenants who either have no lease agreement or are living on a month-to-month tenancy. Serving the notice will mean the tenant has exactly one month to move out. If they don’t move out by the end of that month, the landlord files a complaint with the small claims court

Serving a Tenant with a Texas Eviction Notice

As per Texas law, a landlord must serve the notice for eviction to the tenant properly. If landlords don’t, they run the risk of delaying the eviction process should the tenant use that as a defense against their eviction. The following are the methods landlords must use when serving the tenant with a written notice:

  • Delivering the notice in person or leaving it with someone who is at least 16 years old. 
  • Placing the written notice in a conspicuous area on the property, such as on the inside of the main door. 
  • Serving the notice by registered, regular, or certified mail. Make sure to request the return receipt. 

Hand holding a key connected to a house-shaped keychain

Tenant Defenses for Eviction in Texas 

If the tenant doesn’t move out at the end of the notice period, a landlord can move to the Justice Court and file a complaint. This should cost a landlord a minimum of $146. In the petition, landlords must make sure they include important information, such as:

  • Theirs and the tenant’s name and contact info. 
  • The rental property’s address. 
  • The reason for the eviction. 
  • Whether they’re filing a bond for possession or not. 
  • Whether they’re including a suit for rent
  • Whether they’re requesting a jury trial. 

Next, the court will serve the tenant with a copy of the summons and complaint. Once this is done, the tenant will have the option to respond to the petition. The response doesn’t have to have a written answer. 

Under Texas law, a tenant may contest their eviction by stating any of the following defenses: 

  • The eviction process was illegal. Illegal eviction tactics include removing the tenant’s belongings from the unit, shutting down their utilities, or locking them out. 
  • The eviction suit was discriminatory. 
  • A landlord retaliated against them for exercising a legal right, such as reporting them to health officials for violating a health code. 
  • The tenant cured the violation (if applicable) but the landlord still continued the eviction lawsuit anyway. 
  • The tenant paid rent within the timelines of the eviction notice. 
  • The notice contained substantial errors. 
  • The reason for the eviction lawsuit was false or exaggerated. 

Landlord handing keys to two new tenants and explaining rental law to them

Attending the County Court Hearing 

To prepare for the eviction hearing, make sure to carry as much supporting documentation as possible. Important documents for supporting the eviction lawsuit include the following: 

  • A copy of the rental lease agreement. 
  • A copy of the eviction notice. 
  • A copy of the summons and complaint. 
  • Any additional evidence, such as billing statements or photos of any damage. 

If the tenant doesn’t show up for the court hearing, a default judgment will most likely be issued. Once the plaintiff has paid and filed for the Writ of Possession, the court will then subsequently issue one, giving possession of the property back to the landlord following the eviction hearing. 

Note that there is a chance of an appeal on the part of the tenant which can take more time, energy, and money. If this happens, you’ll need an attorney to represent you. Having a qualified property management company by your side can help you avoid giving tenants grounds for an appeal in the first place.

Writ of Possession

The Writ of Possession gives the tenant the final opportunity to leave on their own. Failure to do so will mean no other option is left but to be physically removed from the rental unit. The court places the mandate of removing a tenant forcefully on only the sheriff. 

Filing a Writ of Possession will cost you anywhere between $150 and $250. Expect the court to grant it at least six days after a successful ruling. 

The Eviction

Under Texas law, if the tenant doesn’t leave even after being issued with a copy of the Writ of Possession, the sheriff or constable will have no other option but to forcefully eject the tenant and remove the tenant’s property from the rental unit.

Bottom Line

There you have it. The step-by-step eviction process in Texas. This is the only route to a successful tenant eviction process under Texas law. It’d be illegal to try to evict the tenant in any other way. Such as, by changing their locks, shutting off utilities, removing their belongings, or as a response to them exercising a legally protected right. 

If you have any more questions or simply need help managing your rental property, Real Property Management Talent is your answer. We do more than manage rental properties in Bell County and Central Texas; we deliver peace of mind! 

With over 30 years of experience in the business, you can expect quality property management services. From marketing your property to screening tenants, collecting security deposits, and everything in between. Get in touch with one of our property managers to learn more!

Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for seeking legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.

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