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Texas Eviction Laws

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Evictions are unavoidable if you are a landlord. Being armed with the right information can help speed things up when it comes to eviction to re-lease your rental property. An eviction can be a stressful situation for both tenant and landlord. Knowing what to do and avoid in eviction suits will leave the Texas eviction process running smoothly.

Under the Texas Law, a 3-day notice period is the rule for eviction and enough for a tenant to move out from your rental unit. After 3 days, a landlord can file for a forcible entry and detainer suit. Moreover, a landlord should file the Texas eviction lawsuit in the precinct where their property is located to avoid a case dismissal.

Notice for Lease Termination with Legal Cause

A Texas landlord can evict a tenant for various reasons. Such reasons include:

  • Threatening other tenants or displaying rowdy and unsafe behavior that would breach the lease agreement or law.
  • Not paying rent on a monthly basis or a failure to pay rent when agreed.
  • Committing a breach of contract of the leasing agreement such as leaving unpaid rent.
  • Engaging in illegal or criminal activity or illegal lease violations.

The first step in the Texas eviction process is sending a written notice. Sending an eviction notice in Texas is simple. A 3-day Notice to Vacate is sufficient for eviction if a tenant pays late or if he has committed a violation.

It’s up to you as the landlord whether to allow your tenant to cure the lease agreement violation or pay rent within the 3 days of the tenant notice. Basically, this translates to landlords having a certain degree of control in Texas when it comes to the eviction process in Texas – in particular, if a tenant pays rent or you wish them to be a holdover tenant in the end.

If you have no existing written lease agreements or a rental agreement with a tenant then you are entitled to evict a tenant without cause. There are 2 ways to go about this situation, depending on the leasing type and when a tenant pays rent.

  • Month-to-month tenancy. This requires a written notice called a 30-day Notice to Quit for eviction.

eviction case without cause using month-to-month tenancy

  • A fixed-term lease or rental agreement. This requires waiting for the tenancy’s end date. Providing an eviction notice is not required since the move-out date is stated clearly on the leasing agreement.

In cases where the tenant does not move out upon the tenancy end, you can present the tenant with a 3-day Notice to Vacate and therefore begin the eviction process after the initial notice period. Should the tenant refuse to leave within the prescribed period, or return rent owed within 3 days, you can file for an eviction suit.

Serving a Tenant with a Notice to Vacate in Texas

Under the Texas eviction law, it’s required to send a tenant a 3-day Notice to Vacate before a landlord can go to court and the landlord filed for an eviction suit. The notice can be given via hand delivery, or through the mail but before doing so you must pay any filing fees to give the proper notice.

Tenant Eviction Defenses in Texas

If a tenant disagrees or the tenant files a counterclaim with the eviction they may have a defense as to why you, the petitioner, shouldn’t win the case. Tenants have their rights in Texas and may claim:

  • You were incompetent as a landlord and neglected your duty to keep the property in good condition.
  • You ignored the tenant requesting repairs or maintenance requests.
  • Your eviction was based on the retaliation of a tenant’s right to complain to a government authority (like Housing and Community Affairs) on the premise of your responsibilities.
  • The landlord is guilty of violating the Fair Housing Act or other federal rules by discriminating against the tenant under the protected classes.
  • Your property is no longer livable and has become a risk to the tenant’s safety and wellbeing which would be a violation of the rental agreement.
  • The landlord is guilty of committing self-help eviction procedures that are against Texas law, and local or federal rules, such as removing a tenant’s property. The tenant is deprived of using vital utilities, like electricity and water. In addition, the landlord changed the locks or committed forcible entry making the rental property inaccessible or unusable to the tenant.

Attending the Hearing

Under the Texas eviction law, a landlord will file an eviction lawsuit at a precinct and establish where your rental unit is situated. Filing for a lawsuit in the wrong precinct can be grounds for dismissal. Therefore, do your research accordingly.

The tenant will be served by a Constable with the eviction lawsuit paperwork that will inform the details of the schedule of the eviction hearing. Consequently, if a tenant fails to receive the eviction petition 2-3 times then it will simply be mailed or posted on the premises.

A tenant is given 5 days to move out of the property when he loses the eviction case. This includes the weekend and if it falls on a holiday, the deadline for eviction is moved to the following day. On the 5th day, the tenant can file for an appeal in a County Court.

file for appeal in court

A 30 to 90-day period can be granted by the court, extending a tenant’s stay. The tenant has 3 court appeal options: a Surety Bond, a Pauper’s Affidavit or an Inability to Pay Appeal. The last one, in particular, being a Cash Appeal and Bond.

At the eviction hearing, any evidence must be presented in front of witnesses. It should be noted that you must have an attorney present. Otherwise, you may choose to represent yourself in court.

Property managers can also assist you in this regard as they are usually well versed in Texas property code.

Writ of Possession in Texas

If the landlord wins and after the mandatory 5-day appeal period is over, and the tenant still refuses to leave you rental property, you can opt to file for a Writ of Possession. Afterwards, the Constable will assist you in gaining back possession of your property using the writ of possession.

The Eviction

At this point in the eviction process, the Constable will serve the tenant a 24-hour Notice to Vacate the premises. The period of eviction in Texas is only a minimum of three weeks or 20-23 days.

Bottom Line: Evictions in Texas

It’s helpful to you to obtain the services of eviction experts from the start of the lease violation to ensure that the eviction process follows the Texas eviction laws. If there are errors made in the filing, this could result in a case loss. Furthermore, this could translate to a tenant overstaying in your rental unit. Instead of earning a steady stream of profit from the rental, you will suffer from a loss of income. Be sure to seek out solid legal advice before taking any action that could jeopardize your eviction case.

Call McCaw Property Management at (817) 491-2553 to assist you in Eviction matters. We’ll make sure the tenant is packed up and leaving your property, and your income losses will be greatly reduced.

If you have specific questions, hire the services of a qualified Texas attorney. Alternatively, you can seek help from a knowledgeable property management company.

Note that this blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in Texas. Laws frequently 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.