As a landlord in New Braunfels, have you ever wanted to end a tenant's lease agreement when said tenant violates terms in the rental agreement? Though tenant screening tries to avoid this situation, it's a possibility. Common issues with tenants include when a tenant pays rent late on a regular basis, non-payment of rent, excessive damages to the rental unit, disruption to other tenants or refusing to leave the property at the end of the written lease agreement.
These are all issues that warrant an eviction according to Texas law. When tenants don't obey by the terms of the lease, landlords have to consider evicting them. Evicting a tenant is anything but easy, so landlords always want to avoid an eviction hearing and an eviction lawsuit, but in certain situations it may be necessary to begin eviction procedures.
Property management alone is hard enough a job without having to evict a tenant, but evictions are 's time-consuming, expensive, and stressful. What's more, for it to be successful, a Texas landlord and tenants need to have a proper understanding of the Texas law of eviction, including legal forms you need to fill out.
Landlords can't simply threaten your tenant to leave, remove their belongings from the unit, or lock them out. These are all examples of illegal "self-help" eviction tactics that can also hold you liable for any damages to the tenant's belongings. It's also not a good practice within property management. In fact, a justice court would probably rule that you have evicted your tenant "constructively."
In this article, our team at Limestone Country Property Management 're going to outline the federal or state statute applicable to Texas so that you can ensure you're abiding by Texas law.
Texas Eviction Laws: What is the Process of Eviction?
The following is a basic overview of the statewide eviction proceedings in Texas.
1. Eviction Notice
The first step to the proceedings is serving them with written notice of eviction. The written notice to vacate must indicate the violation committed as well as the notice period.
There are various notice types. They are as follows:
- 3-Day Notice to Quit.
Paying rent is the key exchange between a landlord and their tenants. If a tenant refuses to pay rent or consistently pays rent late, a landlord may move to evict the tenant from the rental unit before end of the lease term.
As per the law, payment becomes late after the due date is surpassed by 2 full days. Once it becomes due, you must serve the tenant with this notice. You can also serve this notice if your tenant refused to leave after the term on their lease has ended. This gives the tenant only one option: to leave or get served with an eviction suit.
If the tenant doesn't vacate the rental unit within the 3 days of the end of the rental period, you can proceed with the eviction process.
- 3-Day Notice to Vacate.
As part of the process of filing for an eviction, you, as a landlord, must serve a notice to vacate to a tenant who has violated the terms of the agreement. The lease violations that fall under this category include illegal property alterations and excessive property damages. This is especially true if the alterations violate the building or housing codes in Texas or the Texas property code.
Once you, the landlord, files a notice to vacate, if the tenant doesn't move out within the specified time, you can proceed with the formal eviction process from that rental unit. Always make sure to give proper notice or you may get into trouble with the Texas courts.
- 30-Day Notice to Quit.
You must serve this notice to a tenant if the
property is being foreclosed upon. Similar to the previous notices, the tenant doesn't have the option to 'fix' the lease violation. However, you cannot move any of the tenant's property by yourself. The notice period depends on the reason for the eviction.
If the tenant continues staying in the rental property after the 30 days are over from the beginning of the initial period of notice, as a landlord, you can continue with the eviction process in Texas but without forcible entry. If necessary, the landlord may eventually file eviction lawsuit against the tenant.
Though it may cause you stress when considering an eviction lawsuit, as a landlord, it can be in your best interest to do so, especially if the tenant never pays rent of breaks the terms of the rental agreement.
2. Complaint Filing and Service
The next step for a landlord is to file a complaint. To do this in Texas, you must serve the tenant in question with an eviction suit. As a landlord you must do this in the appropriate justice court: the Justice of the Peace Court. Filing fees will cost you about $46.
The sheriff or constable of the county court will then serve the tenant with a copy of the summons and complaint in one of the following ways:
Personal delivery of a copy of the summons to the tenant in person.
Leave a copy with other tenants where the evictee currently resides who are at least 16 years old
This must be done 6 days before the day of the hearing.
3. Court Hearing & Final Judgment
Once the landlord filed the complaint with the court, the hearing will take place between 10 and 21 days later. While not a requirement, the defendant (tenant) can file a written answer with the justice court. If the tenant files a written answer it is likely that the tenant disagrees with the eviction charges.
Both parties have the legal right to request an attorney.
It's Texas law, that if the tenant chooses not to appear at their eviction hearing, usually the judge rules default judgment in favor of the landlord. You may then request the court for a writ of possession, which you must take to the sheriff for execution.
Sometimes, though, the tenant may choose to fight eviction suits. By law, both the landlord and tenant have the right to an attorney when appearing before the judge. According to local or federal rules, the tenant may allege any of the following:
You are discriminating against them. The Texas Fair Housing rules prohibit any form of discrimination on housing-related matters. The protected classes include religion, sex, color, race, familial status, national origin, and disability. It is illegal to request an eviction simply because the tenant belongs to the protected classes.
You failed to maintain the unit to habitable standards, including ignoring the tenant when they were requesting repairs. This can give your New Braunfels tenant a few legal options, such as choosing to withhold further rent payments. In this case, you wouldn't be able to evict them for failure to pay rent but you cannot start the process immediately.
You attempted to process evictions using illegal means, meaning you have insufficiently given the tenant notice. In the state, only a justice court can process the evictions tenants. Using "self-help" tactics, such as locking the tenant out of their unit, shutting off utilities or removing their belongings, would all be illegal. Using any method other than an eviction suit is considered an illegal means of eviction and lacks the fulfillment of any notice requirements.
You did not follow the proper protocol. When carrying out an eviction, you must follow specific rules and guidelines. For example, you must first have a legal cause and serve the tenant with the appropriate notice. Eviction protections are put in place not only to protect you, as a landlord, but also your tenant.
4. Writ of Possession
A writ of possession is the tenant's final notice to leave the rented premises. Basically, it's a notice to vacate. A writ of possession gives the tenant an opportunity to remove their belongings before forced entry and eviction by the sheriff or constable.
After the landlord wins the ruling in the eviction suit, the court will issue the writ of possession within 6 days. You'll then need to hand over the writ of possession to the sheriff or constable for execution. The tenant will then have no more than 24 hours to move out.
Bottom Line: Eviction Rules & Process in Texas
Following the legal eviction process when removing a tenant from your property isn't an option, it's a requirement. Whether you need to evict month-to-month tenants, a holdover tenant, or a tenant late to deliver one month's rent, you need to follow the proper procedure of an eviction suit. Failure to do so will not only stall the eviction process but will also mean serious repercussions for you.
For further help, consider hiring expert legal services or an experienced property management company. Property managers can help you with everything from placing tenants in your unit, to lease agreements, to the eviction process and court costs.
Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state or texas law help. 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 regard to this content.