RESIDENTIAL EVICTIONS IN TEXAS

Author: admin
Posted: 19 July 2012

I. Overview

An eviction in Texas, referred to as “forcible entry and detainer,” is a judicial process by which an owner recovers possession of real property and, if appropriate, a judgment for unpaid rent, attorney’s fees (if any), and court costs against a tenant or occupant. Evictions are governed by Section 24.01 of the Texas Property Code. They are appropriate if there exists a landlord-tenant relationship (with or without a written lease) or if a person is occupying real property without authority to do so.

Evictions are conducted in Justice Courts that are located in various precincts around Texas counties. J.P. Courts have exclusive, original jurisdiction over possession of real property and the authority to decide cases involving damages up to $10,000.

A landlord’s objective is usually to gain a writ of possession and a judgment. However, because collecting judgments against residential tenants can be quite difficult in Texas (because of the extensive list of property exempt from execution under the “homestead laws”), the residential landlord may occasionally choose to be content with a judgment for possession only. Further, because the process can be lengthy (upwards of 2 months in certain circumstances), a landlord and tenant may choose to negotiate a resolution while during the eviction proceedings.

II. Basic Law and Procedure

Evictions are governed by TEX. PROP. CODE § 24.01. An eviction can be sought when: 1) a there exists a landlord-tenant relationship (with or without a written lease) and the tenant’s lease expires; 2) a tenant breaches the lease and fails to cure the breach; or, 3) a person is occupying real property without authority to do so.

III. Notice To Vacate Prior to Filing Eviction Suit

Default or Holdover

Under TEX. PROP. CODE § 24.005, if the occupant is a tenant under a written lease or oral rental agreement, the landlord must give a tenant who defaults or holds over beyond the end of the rental term or renewal period at least 3 days’ written notice to vacate the premises before the landlord files an eviction, unless the parties have contracted for a shorter or longer notice period in a written lease or agreement. Notice under certain other tenancies must comply with TEX. PROP. CODE § 91.001.

Tenant at Sufferance

If the occupant is a tenant at will or by sufferance, the landlord must give the tenant at least 3 days’ written notice to vacate before the landlord files a forcible detainer suit unless the parties have contracted for a shorter or longer notice period in a written lease or agreement.

Tax Foreclosure

If a building is purchased at a tax foreclosure sale or a trustee’s foreclosure sale under a lien superior to the tenant’s lease, and the tenant timely pays rent and is not otherwise in default under the tenant’s lease after foreclosure, the purchaser must give a residential tenant of the building at least 30 days’ written notice to vacate if the purchaser chooses not to continue the lease. The tenant is considered to timely pay the rent if, during the month of the foreclosure sale, the tenant pays the rent for that month to the landlord before receiving any notice that a foreclosure sale is scheduled during the month or pays the rent for that month to the foreclosing lienholder or the purchaser at foreclosure not later than the 5th day after the date of receipt of a written notice of the name and address of the purchaser that requests payment. Before a foreclosure sale, a foreclosing lienholder may give written notice to a tenant stating that a foreclosure notice has been given to the landlord or owner of the property and specifying the date of the foreclosure.

Post-Foreclosure Eviction

The remedy of foreclosure is available to lenders if the borrower defaults. Specified notice and other requirements must be followed if for the foreclosure to be valid (See TEX. PROP. CODE § 51.002 et seq.). Foreclosures are held in Texas on the first Tuesday of each month. The successful bidder (which may be the lender) gets a trustee’s deed that serves to cut off all junior liens including purchase money liens. This action gives the new owner title; the next step is to obtain possession of the property. The occupant will be a “tenant at will or by sufferance.” TEX. PROP. CODE § 24.005(b) has been amended to provide that new owners who purchased foreclosed property must give a residential tenant in good standing at least 90 days notice to vacate so long as the tenant continues to pay rent to the new owner. The intent here is to bring state law more into line with the federal law Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 (“the Act”).

Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act

The Act went into effect May 20, 2009 and expires December 31, 2014. The tenant protection provisions apply in the case of any foreclosure on a “federally related mortgage loan” or on any dwelling or residential real property. Under the Act, “any immediate successor in interest in the property assumes such interest subject to providing to a bona fide tenant a notice to vacate at least 90 days before the effective date of such notice.” Tenants under a bona fide lease or tenancy are permitted to stay in the residence until the end of their leases, with two exceptions: (1) When the property is sold after foreclosure to a purchaser who will occupy the property as a primary residence; or, (2) When there is no lease or the lease is terminable at will under state law.

Delivery of Notice to Vacate

The notice to vacate shall be given in person or by mail at the premises in question. Notice in person may be by personal delivery to the tenant or any person residing at the premises who is 16 years of age or older or personal delivery to the premises and affixing the notice to the inside of the main entry door. Notice by mail may be by regular mail, by registered mail, or by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the premises in question. If the dwelling has no mailbox and has a keyless bolting device, alarm system, or dangerous animal that prevents the landlord from entering the premises to leave the notice to vacate on the inside of the main entry door, the landlord may securely affix the notice on the outside of the main entry door.

If before the notice to vacate is given and the landlord has given a written notice or reminder to the tenant that rent is due and unpaid, the landlord may include in the required notice to vacate a demand that the tenant pay the delinquent rent or vacate the premises by the date and time stated in the notice.

The notice period is calculated from the day on which the notice is delivered.

Notice for Terminating Certain Tenancies

Unless the landlord and tenant have otherwise agreed in a written instrument, or there has been a breach of contract, TEX. PROP. CODE § 91.001 provides that (a) a monthly tenancy or a tenancy from month-to-month may be terminated by the tenant or the landlord giving notice of termination to the other. If the rent-paying period is at least one month, the tenancy terminates on whichever of the following days is the later:

1. the day given in the notice for termination; or
2. one month after the day on which the notice is given.

If the rent-paying period is less than a month, the tenancy terminates on whichever of the following days is the later:

1. the day given in the notice for termination; or
2. the day following the expiration of the period beginning on the day on which notice is given and extending for a number of days equal to the number of days in the rent-paying period.

If a tenancy terminates on a day that does not correspond to the beginning or end of a rent-paying period, the tenant is liable for rent only up to the date of termination.

Opportunity to Respond to Notice

If the lease or applicable law requires the landlord to give a tenant an opportunity to respond to a notice of proposed eviction, a Notice to Vacate may not be given until the period provided for the tenant to respond to the eviction notice has expired.

IV. Suit to Evict and to Recover Unpaid Rent

Jurisdiction

As the Justice Courts (and only these courts) have exclusive, original jurisdiction on forcible detainer actions; therefore, eviction cases must be filed in the Justice Court in the Justice of the Peace Precinct in the county in which the real property is located. See TEX. PROP. CODE § 24.004. At an eviction hearing, the judge determines which party has the superior right to possession and what damages (i.e., back rent, attorney’s fees, and court costs), if any, will be awarded to the landlord. These are the only issues to be considered by the court. A counterclaim by the tenant, regardless of subject matter or merit, is not permitted. Legal actions by tenants may be brought by separate suit in Justice, County or District Court.

A suit for rent may be joined with an eviction wherever the suit for rent is within the jurisdiction of the Justice Court. In such cases, the court, at the same time it renders judgment for possession, may render judgment for any rent due the landlord by the tenant; provided the amount thereof is within the jurisdiction of the Justice of the Peace Court. Rule 738, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure (“TEX. R. CIV. P.”). As of September 1, 2007, the jurisdiction of the Justice Court was increased to claims up to $10,000, exclusive of interest. See TEX. GOV. CODE § 27.031. A landlord cannot avoid jurisdictional limits by artificially lowering the amount claimed to $10,000.

Filing a Suit for Eviction

Complaint Must Be Made Under Oath. To begin an eviction proceeding, the landlord must file a written and sworn Petition for Eviction. See TEX. R. CIV. P. § 739. The complaint must describe the premises of which the landlord is claiming possession with sufficient certainty to identify the premises, and state the facts that entitle the landlord to possession. See TEX. R. CIV. P. § 741.

Each tenant who has signed a lease must be joined in the eviction proceeding. The complaint should list all home and work addresses of each tenant and state that the landlord knows of no other home or work addresses of the tenant in the county where the premises are located.

A landlord may recover unpaid rent regardless of whether the tenant vacated the premises after the date the landlord filed the sworn statement and before the date the court renders judgment.

Recovery of Attorney’s Fees and Costs

To recover attorney’s fees in an eviction suit, a landlord must give a tenant who is unlawfully retaining possession of the landlord’s premises a written demand to vacate the premises. The demand must state that if the tenant does not vacate the premises before the 11th day after the date of receipt of the notice and if the landlord files suit, the landlord may recover attorney’s fees. The demand must be sent by registered mail or by certified mail, return receipt requested, at least 10 days before the date the suit is filed.

If the landlord gives this notice, or if a written lease entitles the landlord to recover attorney’s fees, a prevailing landlord is entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees from the tenant. If the landlord gives this notice, or if a written lease entitles the landlord or the tenant to recover attorney’s fees, the prevailing tenant is entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees from the landlord. A prevailing tenant is not required to give notice in order to recover attorney’s fees if the landlord would be entitled to recover attorney’s fees.
The prevailing party is entitled to recover all costs of court. See TEX. PROP. CODE § 24.006.

Fees in Harris County for Eviction Matters

Filing Fee for the eviction suit: $31, Service Fee for the eviction suit: $70 = Total $101
Abstract of Judgment: $5
Writ of Execution: $5, Service Fee: $125 = Total $130
Writ of Possession: $5, Service Fee: $125 = Total $130
Request for Tow Hearing: $20

Citation

When the landlord files the sworn complaint, the Justice of the Peace will immediately issue a citation directed to each tenant commanding the tenant to appear before the Justice of the Peace at a time specified in the citation. See TEX. R. CIV. P. § 739. The citation will include a notice to the defendant, printed in English and Spanish in conspicuous bold print, regarding immediate deadlines, people who are serving on active military duty, and about retaining an attorney. See TEX. R. CIV. P. § 739.

Delivery of the Citation

The officer receiving the citation will deliver a copy of the citation to the tenant, or leave a copy with some person over the age of 16 years at the tenant’s usual place of abode, at least 6 days before the return date of the citation. See TEX. R. CIV. P. § 742.

If the officer is unsuccessful in serving the citation, the officer will file a sworn statement chronicling the times and places of at least 2 attempts to serve the tenant at all addresses shown in the complaint. The Justice of the Peace, after considering the officer’s statement, may authorize service of the citation by allowing the officer to place the citation inside the premises by placing it through a door mail chute or by slipping it under the front door; and if neither method is possible or practical, by securely affixing the citation to the front door or main entry to the premises. See TEX. R. CIV. P. § 742a. This is also known as a “Rule 106 Service.”

Hearing

Once served, the tenant is required to appear for a trial scheduled not more than 10 days nor less than 6 days from the date of service of the citation.
If the tenant fails to enter an appearance or file an answer before the case is called for trial, the statements made in the complaint will be taken as true and the landlord will be awarded a judgment by default. See TEX. R. CIV. P. § 743.
In eviction cases, the only issue that the court will determine is the right to possession. See TEX. R. CIV. P. § 746.

Trial By Jury

Either the landlord or the tenant shall have the right to a trial by jury by making a request for a jury trial on or before 5 days from the date the defendant is served with the citation, and by paying a jury fee of $5.00. See TEX. R. CIV. P. § 744.

Postponement of Trial

Either the landlord or the tenant may request that the trial be delayed by filing an affidavit with the court stating good cause for the delay. The court may postpone the trial for no longer than 6 days. See TEX. R. CIV. P. § 745.

Who May Represent the Parties

In eviction suits regarding non-payment of rent, holding over or a default judgment, the parties may represent themselves or be represented by their authorized agents, who need not be attorneys. See TEX. PROP. CODE § 24.011 and TEX. R. CIV. P. § 747a.

Judgment

If the landlord prevails, the court will enter judgment for the landlord for possession of the premises, and will award a writ of possession. The writ of possession cannot issue until the expiration of 5 days from the time the judgment is signed. See TEX. R. CIV. P. § 748.

If a judgment is entered for the landlord in a residential eviction case based on non-payment of rent, the Court will determine the amount of rent to be paid each rental pay period during the pendency of any appeal and the amount will be noted in the judgment. If a portion of the rent is payable by a government agency, the court will determine and note in the judgment the portion of the rent to be paid by the government agency and the portion to be paid by the tenant. See TEX. PROP. CODE § 24.0053. If the tenant prevails, the court will give judgment for the tenant against the landlord for costs.

The court shall notify a tenant in writing of a default judgment for possession by sending a copy of the judgment to the premises by first class mail not later than 48 hours after the entry of the judgment. See TEX. PROP. CODE § 24.0061.

V. Appeal of Eviction Suit

There is no motion for new trial in an eviction proceeding.

Either party (with or without the requirement of “good reason”) may appeal from a final judgment to the County Civil Courts at Law by filing a bond, making a cash deposit, or filing with the Justice Court a Sworn Statement of Inability to Pay. The appeal results in the file being packed up and sent to the County Civil Courts at Law courthouse where it will be heard de novo –e.g. as a new case.  The appeal will be tried by the County Civil Courts at Law at any time after the expiration of eight (8) days after the transcript is filed with the County Court at Law.  If there is a delay with the County Court setting the hearing on its own, a party may request that the matter be set to be heard on the court’s trial docket.

If the defendant did not file a written answer in the Justice Court, the defendant must file a written answer in the County Civil Courts at Law within eight (8) days after the transcript is filed in the County Civil Courts at Law.  Failure of the party to file a written answer in the County Civil Courts at Law will result in the entry of a judgment by default.  If the Justice Court enters judgment for the landlord in a residential eviction case based on nonpayment of rent, the Justice Court shall determine the amount of rent to be paid each rental pay period during the pendency of the appeal and note that amount in the judgment.

An appeal is initiated by filing an Appeal Bond with the Justice of the Peace Court, within five (5) days after the judgment is signed. The bond is in favor of the adverse party, conditioned that the appeal will be diligently prosecuted, or the party appealing will pay all costs and damages which may be adjudged against that party. TEX. R. CIV. P. § 750 sets out a form for an Appeal Bond, the substantial compliance with which satisfies the requisites for appealing the judgment in an eviction proceeding. The Justice of the Peace sets the amount of the bond, and may take into consideration loss of rentals during the time of the appeal. See TEX. R. CIV. P. § 749.

In computing the period of time within which an appeal bond is to be filed, the day of the signing of the judgment is not included, but the last day of the period is included. For purposes of counting time limits for filing this appeal bond, Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays are counted. If the last day of the period is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday becomes the last day of the period. See TEX. R. CIV. P. § 4.

Cash or Surety Bonds

The Justice of the Peace will set a cash appeal bond that is usually in the amount of 2 to 3 times the monthly rent. If an appeal bond (cash or surety) is posted, there is no requirement that the tenant pay rent while the appeal is pending. Even so, it is good practice for the landlord to file a motion requesting payment of rent into the court registry based on the theory that “no one should live for free.” Judges are generally receptive to this argument. A preferential setting should also be requested if the County Court in question does not already automatically provide such a setting in eviction cases.

In order to perfect the appeal, the party must provide the full cash bond into the registry of the court. Failure to do so will result in the appeal not being perfected and the Judgment issued by the Justice Court to be finalized. Thereafter, the landlord may move forward with a writ of possession and collection on the other amounts outlined in the Judgment.

Tenant Affidavit of Inability to Pay Costs of Appeal

If a tenant in a residential eviction suit is not able to pay the costs of appeal or to file an appeal bond, the tenant may appeal the judgment by filing with the Justice Court, a Tenant Affidavit of Inability to Pay Costs of Appeal (also known as a “Pauper’s Affidavit”) sworn to before the Clerk of the Justice of the Peace Court or a notary public. The Pauper’s Affidavit must be filed not later than the 5th day after the date the judgment is signed. The affidavit must contain the following information:

1. the tenant’s identity;
2. the nature and amount of the tenant’s employment income;
3. the income of the tenant’s spouse, if applicable and available to the tenant;
4. the nature and amount of any governmental entitlement income of the tenant;
5. all other income of the tenant;
6. the amount of available cash and funds available in savings or checking accounts of the tenant;
7. real and personal property owned by the tenant, other than household furnishings, clothes, tools of a trade, or personal effects;
8. the tenant’s debts and monthly expenses; and
9. the number and age of the tenant’s dependents and where those dependents reside.

Landlord’s Contest of Tenant Affidavit of Inability to Pay Costs of Appeal

When a Pauper’s Affidavit is filed, the court will notify the landlord. The landlord may contest a pauper’s affidavit on or before the 5th day after the date the affidavit is filed. The court will hold a hearing on the contest not later than the 5th day after the date the landlord notifies the court clerk of the contest. It is the tenant’s burden to prove by competent evidence that the tenant is unable to pay the costs of appeal or file an appeal bond. The tenant may make this proof by documents or credible testimony of the tenant or others. If the court approves the Pauper’s Affidavit of a tenant, the tenant is not required to pay the filing fee charged by the County Civil Courts at Law. See TEX. PROP. CODE § 24.0052.

Payment of Rent During Appeal

If a tenant timely files a Pauper’s Affidavit to appeal an eviction for nonpayment of rent, the court will give the tenant a written notice at the time the Pauper’s Affidavit is filed that notifies the tenant: (1) of the amount of the initial deposit of rent that the tenant must pay into the justice court registry; (2) whether the initial deposit of rent must be paid in cash, cashier’s check, or money order, and to whom the cashier’s check or money order must be made payable; (3) the calendar date and if applicable, the time by which the initial deposit must be paid; and, (4) a statement that failure to pay the required amount into the justice court registry by the date and time specified may result in the court issuing a writ of possession without hearing. The date by which the initial deposit must be paid into the justice court registry must be within five (5) days of the date the tenant files the Pauper’s Affidavit. The tenant must continue to pay the rent into the County Court registry as it becomes due during the pendency of the appeal. See TEX. PROP. CODE § 24.0053.

Tenant’s Failure to Pay Rent During Appeal of Eviction Case Based on Non-Payment of Rent

This appellate system may appear unfair to the landlord; however, if the Pauper’s Affidavit is permitted, the tenant is then obliged to begin making monthly rental payments to the County Court and continue to do so during the pendency of the case. Effective January 1, 2012, during an appeal by Pauper’s Affidavit of an eviction case for nonpayment of rent, the Justice Court, on request, without hearing, must immediately issue a writ of possession if: (1) the tenant fails to pay the initial rent deposit into the justice court registry within 5 days of the date the tenant filed a Pauper’s Affidavit; (2) the court gave the tenant the written notice containing the amount of the initial deposit, the form of payment of the deposit, the date and time within 5 days of the date of filing the Pauper’s Affidavit by which the initial rent was to be paid, and the warning that a failure to pay the initial deposit might result in the issuance of a writ of possession without hearing; and, (3) the court has not yet forwarded the transcript to the County Court. This provision gives landlords an effective, “automatic-style remedy” at the Justice Court level without having to wait until the entire eviction file is transferred to the county clerk’s office and a new case is set up.

If during the appeal, the tenant fails to pay rent as the rent becomes due into the County Court’s registry, the County Court will immediately issue a writ of possession unless on or before the day of the hearing the tenant pays into the court registry all of the unpaid rent due during the appeal, and the landlord’s reasonable attorney’s fees. If the tenant has failed timely to pay rent into the County Court registry on more than one occasion, the tenant is not entitled to stay the issuance of the writ of possession by paying the rent and attorney’s fees, and the County Court will immediately issue the writ of possession. See TEX. PROP. CODE § 24.0054.

Right to Request Appointment of Attorney in County Civil Courts at Law after Approval of Pauper’s Affidavit

A tenant who appeals a Judgment of the Justice Court by filing a Pauper’s Affidavit has the right to request the appointment of an attorney to represent him in the proceedings in the County Civil Courts at Law. The tenant may exercise this right after the Pauper’s Affidavit has been approved and the appeal perfected. The request for the appointment of an attorney must be made in writing to the County Civil Court at Law in which the appeal is filed.  An appointed attorney’s representation is in the trial de novo in County Civil Court at Law if the tenant was in possession of the residence at the time the eviction suit was filed in the Justice Court. The County Civil Court at Law may terminate the representation for cause. See Section 25.0020, Texas Government Code.

Appeal from the County Court at Law

A final judgment of a County Court in an eviction suit may not be appealed on the issue of possession unless the premises in question are being used for residential purposes only. A judgment of a County Court may not under any circumstances be stayed pending appeal unless, within ten (10) days of the signing of the judgment, the appellant files a supersedeas bond in an amount set by the County Court. In setting the supersedeas bond the County Court shall provide protection for the appellee to the same extent as in any other appeal, taking into consideration the value of rents likely to accrue during appeal, damages which may occur as a result of the stay during appeal, and other damages or amounts as the court may deem appropriate.  See TEX. PROP. CODE § 24.007.

VI. Enforcing the Judgment / Collection / Possession

Writ of Possession

A landlord who prevails in an eviction suit is entitled to a judgment for possession of the premises and a writ of possession. “Premises” includes the unit that is occupied or rented and any outside area or facility that the tenant is entitled to use under a written lease or oral rental agreement, or that is held out for the use of tenants generally.

A sheriff or constable may use reasonable force in executing a writ. See TEX. PROP. CODE § 24.0061. Further, under Section 7.003 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code, the officer is not liable for damages resulting from the execution of the writ if the officer executes the writ in good faith and with reasonable diligence. The writ of possession shall order the officer executing the writ to:

1. post a written warning on the exterior of the front door of the rental unit notifying the tenant that the writ has been issued and that the writ will be executed on or after a specific date and time stated in the warning not sooner than 24 hours after the warning is posted; and

2. when the writ of possession is executed:

(A) deliver possession of the premises to the landlord;
(B) instruct the tenant and all persons claiming under the tenant to leave the premises immediately, and, if the persons fail to comply, physically remove them;
(C) instruct the tenant to remove or to allow the landlord, the landlord’s representatives, or other persons acting under the officer’s supervision to remove all personal property from the rental unit other than personal property claimed to be owned by the landlord; and
(D) place, or have an authorized person place, the removed personal property outside the rental unit at a nearby location, but not blocking a public sidewalk, passageway, or street and not while it is raining, sleeting, or snowing.

The writ of possession authorizes the officer, at the officer’s discretion, to engage the services of a bonded or insured warehouseman to remove and store, subject to applicable law, part or all of the property at no cost to the landlord or the officer executing the writ. Note that the moving company will come into the property and may take general notes or video the property being removed. The moving companies move quickly to pack all possessions in the property and generally do not take the same care as the tenant in packing the items.

The officer may not require the landlord to store the property.

Collecting Judgments from Tenants

The key objective for the owner is to gain a writ of possession. Although obtaining a judgment for monetary damages against a residential tenant can be an important formality; such judgments are almost never collected. Texas has long been a haven for debtors where both the Texas Property Code and Texas Constitution allow exemptions for a long list of items from execution upon a judgment. Constables will generally not enter a residence to collect on a judgment. The fact is that the average residential tenant has very little that a landlord will be allowed to take and, since garnishment of wages is unconstitutional in Texas, collection is unlikely.

Patel Hammond, PLLC Disclaimer: This news entry is intended to highlight selected laws regarding forcible detainer actions in Texas. It is not comprehensive. Not laws that may impact landlords, tenants or occupants are included, and for brevity, identified laws, most exceptions and many details are omitted. This news entry is intentionally brief to provide a quick list of priority items. It is not intended to replace the advice of competent legal counsel or to address a particular situation. The information in this document and this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on. Patel Hammond PLLC disclaims any warranty as to accuracy or completeness. Nothing herein creates an attorney-client relationship.

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19 Comments so far

  1. cash rocket | June 21, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    Howdy my good friend! I would like to point out that this particular blog post is actually incredible, good composed and will include just about all important infos. I would like to discover additional blogposts such as this .

  2. David M Kuntschik | September 1, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Can a landlord file an eviction while a previous eviction dated August 6, 2013 is scheduled for appeal in County Court on September 20, 2013?

  3. Sandra Godfrey, Attorney | October 3, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Section V. Appeal in your article regarding Residential Evictions states that an appeal to CCC at Law must be heard within 45 days. Can you give me the rule number on that please?
    Thanks,
    Sandra Godfrey

    1. admin | October 17, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      Dear Ms. Godfrey,
      The information has been updated on the website. Note the hearing can be any time after 8 days. You may wish to set the matter for hearing with the court if it has delayed in setting it on its own. Further, monitor if rentals have been paid when due into the registry of the court.

  4. Cienna Dee | November 2, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    My husband says he can lock the gate to our driveway to prevent me from entering. I am disabled. He justifies this because we live in Texas and this is his separate property before we married. Also, I moved my office building to the property and he says he can force me to remove it with 30 days notice. When I had my near fatal auto accident and was in the hospital he locked my children out of the house for not telling him where they were. My parents flew in to see me and they were with them and witnessed this when they brought the children back to the house.

  5. Doneen | December 1, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    This is very good and informative. I have taken a former tenant to small claims count and have three judgments in 2012. I now have another tenant who has consistently short paid rent since April 2013. It now looks as if they are going to abandoned the property. She has left him due to abuse to her and children. His is staying at his Mother’s and the water has been turned off due to non-payment. The neighbors have informed me that he is keeping the address for child custody hearing 12/02/2013, if awarded will take the children and move in with his Mother. As a landlord, how many days do I wait to determine if the property is abandoned? At this point a lot of the personal property is still in the home.

  6. Deanna Ricklefs | January 2, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    We won a judgement as Landlords and waited the 5 days. No appeal. Filed the Writ of Possession on Monday, Dec 30 and he was served by the constable. Our tentant filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy on Tues, Dec 31. So at this point there is a Stay. What can we do?

  7. Paulette Nicks | February 7, 2014 at 2:03 am

    What if it is not the tenant. Every sense the housing market went bust. Many people and learning properties have practiced unlawful tactics to tenants. High fees, entering dwelling without notice. The tenant my be late but still paying rent and fees drowning in debt. Many land lords are praying on innocent people. Filing eviction and astronomical late fees. One property calls them self Stressfreedom but they certainly stressful. Not mentioned on the lease to pay late fee in access of 125.00 a day. My tenants are now and being victimized by landlords aka slumlords. Taking advantage of people with less than perfect credit or may have on prior eviction. Just because a person has an eviction does not mean they are bad tenants. When the hurricanes came to Texas every one wanted a piece of the pie. Persons purchased properties so they could collect section 8 or housing, because they were guaranteed to get paid. Now that the economy is so bad and everyone is struggling, land lords have become ruthless! !! This not being said. Many tenants pay or have no choice but to pay late, nevertheless they are still willing to pay. Everyone needs a roof over there head. But landlords see this as an opportunity to tact on ridiculous fees, evict, take money and run and ready for their next victom. It is a two edged sword. I have not seen anyone stand for the thousands of low income people who are good payer and keep up properties, and even sometimes out of their own pockets enhance the property to make it look even better. Because of what ever life situation they have encountered they may have always been accustomed to living a certain lifestyle. They are trying to keep it as close as they can get. They reluctantly rent because they have no choice. Then the land lord pounces on them them at the first opportunity that something interfere with the agreement. The place judgements on them and even at times messing up the childrens name’s and they or minors. Just because their names are on the lease because of there parents. They grow up or perhaps go to college have never leased anything in their life. Only to find out there ctedit is stained and they have not even begain life yet. Not to mention that it is up to the land lord to release the judgement off there name,for when it occurred they were minors. Don’t be so quick to believe everything you read on these sites. There are many gready landlords with no conscious. They post pretty pictures, they dont fix anything but quick to take double deposits,and put people out and put them in worse predicaments than they already are. To many of them it all about the almighty DOLLAR! They are some very evil people that pray on the innocent just because they are less fortunate. Beware of the slum lord!!!!!!!

    1. Amber | October 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      You are so correct in your statement that there are “evil landlords that pray on the innocent”. I never realized how awful and cruel some people can be until now. I am dealing with the worst landlord situation imaginable and at a very devastating time. I suddenly became my father’s “caregiver” in his home which is 2 hours from my home. My father is on hospice because he has less than 3 months to live and my landlord knows this and is using it to his benefit. Just prior to my family crisis my landlord attempted to evict me for being behind on my rent, I was behind but only because his repairman made an error when fixing my ac and got a part wet that caused the compressor to continue running without ever shutting off causing my electric bill to become over $1000 each month. It took me several months to investigate the cause of my outrageous electric bills (without any help from the landlord). Since the electricity is in my name, I had no choice but to pay the bill or my electric would be shut off. I discussed this with the landlord and rather than covering the cost of the repair error (which my lease states he is responsible for), he took me to court for eviction. I signed a paper agreeing to pay the rent that I owe and my attorney told me that the repair cost issue, along with the previous deposit my landlord still owes me by law would be a separate case (which means more $ for another retainer). I could not come up with the full amount in 2 weeks time that was on this signed agreement, so I make verbal arrangements to pay half now (which I did) and them I paid the current months rent. Now my landlord filed a writ of possession after taking the money and I have 24 hours to find a way to get a volunteer caregiver to stay with my father so I can drive 2 hours back home time get as much out as I can before he brings a police officer to remove mine and my sons belongings to a storage unit of his choice. He is a predator! He is fully aware of my circumstances and is taking advantage of my helpless situation. My attorney hasn’t returned my calls and I have no choice but to leave my father with a hospice volunteer, a stranger (if one is available on such short notice), drive 2 hours and move as many important personal possessions as I possibly can before my 24 hours is up and he shows up with a police officer and removes my belongings to his storage and changes the locks. Now I am a single mother with a very small car, so I will have to lose most of my worldly possessions but at the very least, I can make sure he is not able to take from my son.Since he took my payments, I have no $ for the retainer I need to sew him for all the $ he owes me, but given the fact that this evil man is already wasting precious time I should be spending with my father in the last few days of his life, I don’t think I will waste anymore precious time on this rotten man that should not be a landlord (he should be in prison). I will waste less precious time taking my landlord to court later when I no longer need to be here for my father.

  8. Evicted | March 7, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Texas Evictions and Public Record Laws
    My ex spouse put me out of our apartment almost a year prior to him being evicted. I wrote a letter to the rental office stating that I no longer live in apartment due to domestic dispute. I went to check my credit report it stated that I have an eviction on my credit and on public record. Is there anything that I can do about this situation? I know paying it is one solution but if I do pay it or half of it can it take the other party to court to reimburse me?

  9. Sharon Clark | March 12, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    I’m a tenant involved in a court dispute in North Texas with my landlord. My landlord made a series of oral agreements with me to let me pay rent after the date specified in my lease contract as I was working as a contractor and my paydate constantly changed.

    The landlord accepted the rent after the date in October 2013. In November my landlord broadsided with me an eviction notice which was served on me by the Constable. The leasing manager lied in all of the court documents about delivery of the notice number 1 and I challenged the notice when I went to the Justice of the peace because my notice was called a “Failure to Pay Rent” and it was a pay or quit. The statute allows for a pay or quit but only if a “previous written notice or reminder” was given to the tenant which in my case it was not.

    This is the statute I’m referring to:

    If before the notice to vacate is given and the landlord has given a written notice or reminder to the tenant that rent is due and unpaid, the landlord may include in the required notice to vacate a demand that the tenant pay the delinquent rent or vacate the premises by the date and time stated in the notice.

    My notice did not include a day or time to move and did not say “demand for possession”. It simply said “you didn’t pay rent and if you don’t pay in three day s you must vacate”.

    I’ve spoken to several different attorneys and they all have different opinions of that statute. Some say that statute means nothing and that even if the landlord didn’t include a day or time in the notice it didn’t matter.

    Two others including the TAA’s guidance office felt that my landlord could only include the “pay or vacate” IF she had given me a previous written notice or reminder.

    This statute is unclear. This is important to me because the landlord sent conflicting messages and even told me to “overlook the notice” so long as I spoke to the office and conveniently went back and lied to the court like none of these conversations happened. If I was given an “unequivocal” notice to vacate that stated “Demand for possession” I would have moved. I am angry which is why I am fighting this. I no longer live there but the landlords attorney has wracked me with fees because I lost at the JP Court and the Trial court.

    My opinion is either that statute should be followed exactly as it is written or it is unconstitutionally vague. Why would they include in the statute “and if the landlord has given a prior written notice or reminder to the tenant they may include the language pay or vacate”? if it didn’t mean anything??

    And why is it that no attorney knows exactly what that clause means? At the trial court I told the Judge about that and the other sides attorney simply said “Well it doesn’t say they cannot”. Well if it doesn’t say it can and it doesn’t say it cannot what does this phrase mean?

  10. Reyes | April 2, 2014 at 12:07 am

    My parents had their home foreclosed and now they are unable to rent an apartment due that the tenant screening reports state they intruded after the home was foreclosed. This is impossible because they left voluntarily before the date to evict and never returned. Where can they get answers and can this be fixed?

  11. Dee | April 2, 2014 at 8:12 am

    My fiancee house i live in he in prison sold yesterday in foreclosure. How long will it take for eviction and what can i do to prolong if possible. Does he file with jp to get me out?

  12. vapor Pen | April 18, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Excellent blog post. I certainly love this website.
    Thanks!

  13. W.L.Pierce | April 21, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    For dummies like me, it would be helpful to have a chart. Things to do and in the proper order to do them. Like #1, #2, #3 etc. 04-21-14

  14. Nicole Loest | June 25, 2014 at 3:59 am

    What can be done now? In 2012 my husband and I built a home on 218 acres owned by my grandparents. The home was paid for in cash no mortgage or title to the home. My grandparents helped with the cost of building the home. The deed to the land was in my grandparents names. Never changed as they had in their wills that ut was to go to our two children one day. On June 24,2013 my grandfather passed away. In February 2014 my grandmother brought me a paper saying I had notice to vacate as rent had not been paid if I wasn’t out by the deadline she gave she would file to have us evicted,
    In JP court she claimed 800$ rent was to be paid monthly that there was an oral agreement to this amount. This was a lie. She was awarded judgement, we appealed the judgement. The day before the county court proceedings we went to court for an injunction to stop the county court proceedings as we had filed in district court trying to get our children right to title.
    The judgent was not in our favor and county court happened the next day. My grandmother now claimed we were to pay 800$ a month in rent and it’s supposedly costing her 2,600$ in expenses for us living here. She showed no bills, documents to these claims of expenses. Then during questioning admited there was no rental agreement written or oral. Even her attorney admited this to the judge.
    Yet the judge still granted her the judgement.
    This was last wed. Now today the judge set the bond at over 48,000$ how can this happen?
    I see it as she filed claiming unpaid rent, we appealed, she admits to county judge no written or oral contract, she shouldn’t be able to get this judgement if she admits what we are claiming which is no rental agreement of any kind. I don’t understand this is happening and don’t know what to do?

  15. d.hen | July 23, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    I understand the section that states the landlord can file for unpaid rent even if the tenant moves after landlord signs the Complaint under penalty of perjury. My concern is that the landlord filed the complaint ten days after the tenants vacated, known to her they vacated. When landlord appeared in court, she stated that she knew they moved ten days prior to the filing, but she just wanted monetary judgment. Can the Eviction court hear the case? We have filed Motion to Dismiss, but judge ignored it and let her perjured document stand. This doesn’t seem right. The judge even told Landlord that she filed in the wrong court, and should have filed in the small claims court, but continued to let the case be handled in the Eviction court.

  16. Ms. Tiffany | August 9, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    My landlord filed eviction. I never was served. Nothing was on the door. Nothing. I never knew anything until my landlord texted the NEXT day and said “you have five days to get out”. I went to the courthouse and explained that I never knew anything about anything. I explained that I was in a downtown court that day and wouldnt have been able to attend anyway. They said that I could appeal the judgement by paying the rent in five days {i think{. I didn’t get paid until the seventh day. A letter was posted on the door saying writ of possession. I have the money to pay now, but what do I do? Can I appeal this writ that will possibly be executed on Monday? Can I use the grounds that I was already in court on the 21st when they had the initial hearing? Please help. Thanks

  17. J. Ortiz | August 26, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Good information. If Appeal on Paupers is not responded to within 8 days by the defendant once the CC gets it, what triggers the Default Judgment? Who then creates the Abstract. Writ of Possession was given and executed by JP. Simply trying to leave Abstract on their credit.

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