No matter how good your screening process is, there may come a time when you’ll need to evict a tenant from your Texas property. And when that time comes, you’ll want to be familiar with the 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.
Notice for Lease Termination with Legal Cause
According to Texas landlord-tenant law, you can evict a tenant for a variety of reasons. These reasons include if a tenant violates the lease or rental agreement, refuses to pay rent, or fails to move out after the lease or rental agreement expires. The type of eviction notice to use depends on the reason for lease termination.
3-Day Notice to Quit
If you have a tenant who is always paying rent late or failing to pay it all together, you can begin the eviction process. Start by serving them with an eviction notice. But, when doing so, check your current rental lease 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, great! However, if they don’t and continue living in the rental unit, you may begin filing a complaint in court.
The property owner can also use this notice if a tenant breaks the terms specified in their lease. For example, abiding by the pet policy and not subletting the unit illegally. The notice gives the tenant three calendar days to leave the premises. Unlike in some other states, 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 or are living on a month-to-month lease. 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, you can go to small claims court and file a complaint.
Serving a Tenant with an Eviction Notice in Texas
As per Texas law, you must serve the eviction notice to the tenant properly. If you don’t, you run the risk of delaying the process should the tenant use that as a defense against their eviction. The following are the methods you must use when serving the tenant with a written notice:
- Delivering the eviction 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.
Tenant Eviction Defenses in Texas
If the tenant doesn’t move out at the end of the notice period, you can move to the Justice Court and file a complaint. This should cost you a minimum of $146. In the petition, you must make sure you include important information, such as:
- You and your tenant’s name and contact info.
- The rental property’s address.
- The reason for the eviction.
- Whether you’re filing a bond for possession or not.
- Whether you’re including a suit for rent
- Whether you’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.
- You retaliated against them for exercising a legal right, such as reporting you to health officials for violating a health code.
- The tenant cured the violation (if applicable) but you still continued the eviction lawsuit anyway.
- The tenant paid rent within the timelines of the eviction notice.
- The eviction notice contained substantial errors.
- The reason for the eviction lawsuit was false or exaggerated.
Attending the County Court Eviction Hearing
To prepare for the eviction hearing, make sure to carry as much supporting documentation as possible. Important documents to carry include the following:
- A copy of the 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 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 you.
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.
If the tenant doesn’t leave even after being issued with a copy of the writ, 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.
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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