As a landlord in New Braunfels, have you had to deal with tenant issues? Common tenant issues include habitual late payment of rent, non-payment of rent, excessive property damage, disruption to other tenants or refusing to leave at the end of the lease agreement.
These are all issues that warrant an eviction in Texas. When tenants don't obey by the terms of the lease, you'll have to consider evicting them. But evicting a tenant is anything but easy. It's time-consuming, expensive, and stressful. What's more, for it to be successful, you'll need to have a proper understanding of the Texas eviction laws.
You 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. In fact, a court would probably rule that you have evicted your tenant "constructively."
In this article, we're going to outline the Texas eviction law so that you can ensure you're abiding by the Texas landlord-tenant law.
Texas Eviction Laws: What is the Eviction Process?
The following is a basic overview of the statewide eviction process in Texas.
1. Eviction Notice
The first step to evicting a tenant in Texas is serving them with a written eviction notice. The notice must indicate the violation committed.
There are various eviction notice types. They are as follows:
- 3-Day Notice to Quit.
As per Texas law, rent 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 their lease term has ended. This gives the tenant only one option: to leave.
If the tenant doesn't move out within the 3 days, you can proceed with the eviction process.
- 3-Day Notice to Vacate.
You must serve this notice to a tenant who violates the terms of the agreement. The lease violations that fall under this category include illegal property alterations and excessive property damage.
If the tenant doesn't move out within the specified time, again, you can proceed with the eviction process.
- 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 violation.
If the tenant continues staying in the property after the 30 days are over, you can continue with the eviction process.
2. Complaint Filing and Service
The next step in the eviction process is to file a complaint and serve it on the tenant. You must do this in the appropriate court: the Justice of the Peace Court. The filing fee will cost you about $46.
The sheriff or constable will then serve the tenant with a copy of the summons and complaint in one of the following ways:
- Hand over a copy to the tenant in person.
- Leave a copy with someone who is at least 16 years old where the tenant resides in.
This must be done 6 days before the day of the hearing.
3. Court Hearing & Judgment
Once the complaint is filed with the court, the eviction hearing will take place between 10 and 21 days later. While not a requirement, the defendant (tenant) can file a written answer with the court.
If the tenant chooses not to show up, the court will probably issue a default judgment in your favor. 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 the eviction. In their defense, 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.
- You failed to maintain the unit to habitable standards. 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.
- You tried to evict them using illegal means. In Texas, only a court can evict a tenant. Using "self-help" tactics, such as locking the tenant out of their unit, shutting off utilities or removing their belongings, would all be illegal.
- You did not follow the proper eviction process. 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.
4. Writ of Possession
A writ of possession is the tenant's final notice to leave the rented premises. It gives them an opportunity to remove their belongings before forcible eviction by the sheriff or constable.
After a successful ruling, the court will issue the document 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 Process & Eviction Rules in Texas
Following the legal eviction process when removing a tenant from your property isn't an option. It is a requirement. Failure to do so will not only stall the eviction process, but it will also mean serious repercussions for you.
For further help, consider hiring expert legal services or an experienced property management company.
Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. 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.