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EVICTION IN TEXAS – A LEGAL OVERVIEW

EVICTION IN TEXAS – A LEGAL OVERVIEW

Eviction Process in Texas

No matter how much you try to avoid evicting a tenant, sometimes it is necessary. When this occurs, it’s best to have a working knowledge about the eviction laws. This will ensure you can handle the procedure properly.

In Texas, eviction is relatively simple. A 3-day notice is sufficient to have a tenant vacate the premises. If this notice expires and the tenant has not vacated, you can file a forcible entry and detainer suit. The length of this process will depend on the tenant’s tenacity to fight their eviction case.

Eviction Notice Texas – Lease Termination with Legal Cause

You can evict a tenant for various reasons, including:

  • If they threaten other tenants or display unsafe behavior.
  • If they fail to pay the rent.
  • Should they violate the lease agreement in any way.
  • When they engage in illegal activity in your rental property.

As mentioned earlier, Texas’ eviction notice is simpler than other states. You only have to give your tenant a 3-day notice to vacate if they have not paid their rent. If your tenant violated the lease agreement, you can provide them a 3-day notice to quit. You can choose whether or not to give your tenant a chance to remedy the violation.

In cases where there is no written lease, a tenant is considered an “at-will” tenant. This means you can evict them without cause. There are two ways to evict an “at-will” tenant. These depend on the type of lease period agreed upon.

  • A 30-day notice to quit. This must be given to the “at-will” tenant when the lease is month-to-month.
  • If your tenant has a fixed-term lease then you can wait until the term ends. You are not obliged to provide notice before the lease ends. This is because it’s understood that the tenant will move out if they have not decided to renew their fixed-term lease.

However, if your tenant continues to remain in your rental property at the end of the leasing term, they are considered a “hold-over” tenant. This is understood as a tenant holding over on your premises even after their tenancy has ended. When this occurs, you can give them a 3-day notice to vacate. If the tenant still fails to move out within the given 3-day period, you can proceed with filing an eviction lawsuit.

NOTICE TO VACATE – TEXAS

In Texas, you must first give your tenant a 3-day notice to vacate prior to filing an eviction lawsuit. It remains your prerogative whether or not to give a tenant an opportunity to pay their rent or fix a leasing violation within the prescribed 3-day period. If you don’t want to give that option to the tenant, you have the right not to.

Tenant Eviction Defenses in Texas

The defense is a reason presented by the tenant as to why you (the petitioner) shouldn’t win the case. A tenant may claim:

  • You have not conducted essential property repairs to the unit, impacting the tenant’s living comforts.
  • You are acting out of retaliation since the tenant exercised their rights or filed a complaint to the appropriate government office.
  • You are discriminating against the tenant according to their religion, national origin, disability, race, color, gender, and/or familial status.
  • Your rental property has become uninhabitable and unsafe for the tenant.
  • You engage in self-help eviction by switching off utilities, changing the locks, or taking down doors, windows, or walls from the property to force the tenant to move out.

Attending Court Hearing

Typically, you or an agent acting on your behalf file the eviction lawsuit at the justice of the peace court. A hearing date will then be set and both you and the tenant will be notified of the date of the eviction trial.

If the tenant fails to answer the eviction papers or fails to present themself in court, the court will hand a default judgment against the tenant. In case a tenant prefers a jury trial, he has to file and go to the justice court. This must be done within five (5) days after being handed the eviction papers. Keep in mind that a tenant can counter an eviction lawsuit with an appeal to the county courts-at-law.

During the court hearing, you must be fully prepared with evidence of your cause for eviction. Simply filing an eviction case does not automatically guarantee that you’ll win the lawsuit.

He must provide ample proof and supporting documents to the court. He has to present reasons and evidence to convince the court that it’s rightful for him to possess back his premises.

Writ of Possession Texas

You can file for a writ of possession after the mandatory five (5) day appeal period is over and the tenant is still residing in your rental property.

The writ of possession will mandate a constable to deliver your property back into your possession. The constable of the precinct will be able to provide you with more information regarding the writ.

Forcible Entry and Detainer

After the writ of possession is filed, the constable will serve a 24-hour notice to vacate to the tenant. Eviction takes only a minimum of three weeks or 20-23 days in any Texas county.

If you have specific questions, hire the services of a qualified Texas attorney. Alternatively, you can seek help from a professional property management company in Texas, such as OmniKey Realty.

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 give us a call at 833.666.4539 for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.

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