Texas Law

FILING AN EVICTION IN TEXAS

Evictions in Texas must be filed in the county and precinct where the property is located. Complete the “Petition for Eviction for Non-Payment of Rent” and have it notarized.  Bring a copy of your “Notice to Vacate” along with the eviction form and any copies that you would like to have for your own records.  You’ll be given a court date when you file your eviction with the Court or soon there after.  This is usually between 2 and 3 weeks.

There are four steps in the BASIC Texas Eviction process:

  1. The notice to vacate
  2. Filing the Suit
  3. Going to Court
  4. On rare occasions Writ of Possession (Not included in our fees for the eviction)

1. The notice to vacate

If a landlord alleges a tenant is not paying rent, the Landlord is required by law to give the tenant written notice to vacate the premises. This notice can be delivered to the tenant personally with a witness, by certified mail (return receipt requested) or by any other method allowed by law. Unless your lease specifically states otherwise, the law requires you to deliver the written notice, and then wait three days before filing your suit in Justice Court. This is a legal requirement which must be met and cannot be overlooked.

2. Filing the Suit

You must file an original petition with the Court and pay court costs of $92 (subject to change). These court costs pay for filing your suit, your court hearing, and for the Constable to serve the citation. The citation is the notice to the tenant that you are attempting to evict him.

3. Going to Court

You must go to Court and prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. Simply filing a suit does not necessarily mean you will win your suit. You should bring all documents and other evidence with you to Court in a well organized fashion. At the hearing, you will have to present evidence to show that you are entitled to possession of the premises.

4. Writ of Possession

If you have won your suit in Court, and the mandatory five day appeal period has passed, and the other party is still occupying the premises, you can file a Writ of Possession in Court. A Writ of Possession is a Court order to the Constable to place you in possession of the property. The Writ of Possession will cost you an additional $130 (subject to change), and may be requested at the JP office where the judgment is.

The WRIT of Possession usually takes about one week to execute.  The constable will deliver a 24 hour notice to the tenants to be moved out.  They will return and if the tenant is still in the property they will call the moving van and begin the process of moving the tenant out of the house.  Someone has to be present during the execution of the WRIT.

If the tenant is in the process of moving when the constable arrives he will return the next day to assure that they have finished.  They law does not allow the constable to stop them from moving on the first day they try and execute the WRIT if a move is in progress.  If they are still there on the second day they will execute the WRIT and force the move.

How long does it take to evict someone in Texas?

From start to finish approximately three weeks. (minimum time frames as state in the Texas Property code). In practice if everything goes perfect this might happen.

  • 3 days from notice to vacate to filing of suit
  • 8-10 days to serve the citation- The law requires the defendant have six days notice before the hearing.
  • 5 days to appeal the suit following the hearing required by law.
  • 2 days- The Constable is required by law to post a 24 hour vacate notice on the Writ of Possession

20-23 days is the minimum amount of time to evict someone in any County in Texas. It must also be noted that any eviction suit is subject to appeal to the County Courts-at-Law.

Is there a faster way to evict someone? There is a remedy that can shorten the time period from 23 days to ten days if you prevail in Court. This is known as a Bond for Immediate Possession and includes a Notice to Defendant of the Bond for Immediate Possession. By filing a bond for immediate possession, the eviction process could be shortened (my experience is no, it’s not worth the extra money)  provided the defendant does not request a trial or post a counter bond.

In a Bond for Immediate Possession, you are putting up a bond for surety or cash. If you lose your suit, you could lose all or part of your bond. It must also be noted that any eviction suit judgment may be appealed to the County Courts-At-Law. However, if the defendant requests a trial or files a counter bond, the length of time involved in a Bond For Immediate Possession will be about the same as in a normal Eviction suit.

Can I lock out somebody who is not paying their rent or get in trouble if I do? 
Refer to: Texas Property Code: Removal of Property and Exclusion of Residential Tenant.

(a) A landlord may not remove a door, window, or attic hatchway cover or a lock, latch, hinge, hinge pin, doorknob, or other mechanism connected to a door, window, or attic hatchway cover from premises leased to a tenant or remove furniture, fixtures, or appliances furnished by the landlord from premises leased to a tenant unless the landlord removes the item for a bona fide repair or replacement. If a landlord removes any of the items listed in this subsection for a bona fide repair or replacement, the repair or replacement must be promptly performed.

(b) A landlord may not intentionally prevent a tenant from entering the leased premises except by judicial process unless the exclusion results from:(1) bona fide repairs, construction, or an emergency; (2) removing the contents of premises abandoned by a tenant; or (3) changing the door locks of a tenant who is delinquent in paying at least part of the rent.

(c) If a landlord or a landlord’s agent changes the door lock of a tenant who is delinquent in paying rent, the landlord or the landlord’s agent must place a written notice on the tenant’s front door stating: (1) an on-site location where the tenant may go 24 hours a day to obtain the new key or a telephone number that is answered 24 hours a day that the tenant may call to have a key delivered within two hours after calling the number; (2) the fact that the landlord must provide the new key to the tenant at any hour, regardless of whether or not the tenant pays any of the delinquent rent; and (3) the amount of rent and other charges for which the tenant is delinquent.

(d) A landlord may not intentionally prevent a tenant from entering the leased premises under Subsection (b) (3)unless: (1) the tenant is delinquent in paying all or part of the rent; and (2) the landlord has locally mailed not later than the fifth calendar day before the date on which the door locks are changed or hand-delivered to the tenant or posted on the inside of the main entry door of the tenant’s dwelling not later than the third calendar day before the date on which the door locks are changed a written notice stating: (A) the earliest date that the landlord proposes to change the door locks; (B) the amount of rent the tenant must pay to prevent changing of the door locks; and (C) the name and street address of the individual to whom, or the location of the on-site management office at which, the delinquent rent may be paid during the landlord’s normal business hours.

(e) A Texas landlord may not change the locks on the door of a tenant’s dwelling under Subsection (b) (3) on a day, or on a day immediately before a day, on which the landlord or other designated individual is not available, or on which any on-site management office is not open, for the tenant to tender the delinquent rent.

(f) A Texas landlord who intentionally prevents a tenant from entering the tenant’s dwelling under Subsection (b) (3) must provide the tenant with a key to the changed lock on the dwelling without regard to whether the tenant pays the delinquent rent.

(g) If a landlord arrives at the dwelling in a timely manner in response to a tenant’s telephone call to the number contained in the notice as described by Subsection (c) (1) and the tenant is not present to receive the key to the changed lock, the landlord shall leave a notice on the front door of the dwelling stating the time the landlord arrived with the key and the street address to which the tenant may go to obtain the key during the landlord’s normal office hours.

(h) If a landlord violates this section, the tenant may: (1) either recover possession of the premises or terminate the lease; and (2) recover from the landlord a civil penalty of one month’s rent plus $500 (subject to change), actual damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees in an action to recover property damages, actual expenses, or civil penalties, less any delinquent rent or other sums for which the tenant is liable to the landlord.

(i) If a landlord violates Subsection (f), the Texas tenant may recover, in addition to the remedies provided by Subsection (h), an additional civil penalty of one month’s rent.

(j) A provision of a lease that purports to waive a right or to exempt a party from a liability or duty under this section is void.

Full Documentation on Evictions

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