Texas is a very landlord friendly state. Unlike other states, we can usually evict a tenant within 3-4 weeks from the filing date. This article will discuss how and when you should file an eviction in Texas. This article is not intended to provide legal advice. It simply outlines the processes for filing an eviction. If you have any questions, please contact an attorney.
In Texas, there is no defense for non-payment of rent. I have never been in a case or heard a case where a tenant provided a legal reason for non- payment of rent. The plaintiff must sign a military affidavit confirming to our knowledge the tenant(s) were not in the military and on leave. Other than that, a judge will always rule in favor of the landlord plaintiff as long as paperwork is filed properly.
Our office only evicts a tenant in a worst case scenario. It really is a lose lose situation both for landlord and tenant. It is always best to try and work out a payment plan if possible. Even if tenant pays late every month, it makes more business sense to keep a paying tenant than evict a tenant and have to turn the property. As long as tenants do not go a month in arrears, it may be more cost effective to have tenant stay in property and simply not renew the lease.
The first thing a landlord must do is mail or post a demand notice for tenant to vacate the property within a specific number of days specified in the lease agreement. Most property managers in Texas use a promulgated TAR form (Texas Association of Realtors). The TAR agreement provides a demand notice of three days for tenants to vacate the property. Many apartments use a TAA form which I think only requires one day. It is not necessary to hand deliver or send notice by certified mail. We usually just mail our eviction notices. Sometimes we will post notice on the door, but this is not required. We must allow three days (as specified in TAR lease) plus an additional 2-3 days if notice is mailed. If you hand deliver, it is best to post the notice on the inside of the front door. Make sure to include date on the letter.
If tenant does not respond within three days of receiving the notice (or number of days specified in your lease agreement) or surrender property, you may file the eviction with the county courthouse. You must determine what county your property is in and what precinct. There are four precincts in Williamson County and five precincts in Travis County. You must make sure you are filing in the property precinct. For example, many properties in Round Rock are filed at the precinct court in Taylor, TX instead of the precinct in Round Rock. Below is a url address for map of Travis/Williamson County precincts and contact info:
Most precincts can check the address over the phone if you call them. We recommend you have the constable serve all adults listed on the lease. There is a court fee and a service fee for each tenant you list and have served on the eviction. Once the eviction is filed, the constable will serve the tenant(s) within a few business days. We recommend not visiting the property until the tenant has been served. If the tenant makes a payment after being served by constable, only accept certified funds and place money order in folder and bring to court. The judge may lower the judgment by the amount paid. We do not recommend you deposit the funds unless all rents and fees are paid in full.
Once tenant is served, a court date is usually set within 2-3 weeks. Each precinct has a different communication process. Some mail a notice and others require you to call and inquire about the court date. The purpose of the eviction is to get legal possession of the property. You may request a judgment for all past due rents. The judge will not allow late fees or any other fees to be added to judgment, only rents. Tenants many times will not even show up to court. They know there is no legal reason for non-payment of rent. If they don’t pay, they can’t stay in home.
Once the judge awards the judgment, the tenant has five days to appeal the eviction judgment. They must pay a bond equal to two times the judgment to appeal the eviction judgment. If no appeal is filed within five days, and the tenant has not surrendered the property and is still occupying the property, you may file for a writ of possession. This is an additional fee. One final notice is posted for tenants to vacate, and if they don’t vacate the property, you will meet the constable to peacefully remove personal belongings and place by curb. You will need to have a crew ready to remove personal belongings and a locksmith to change locks. If personal items are not removed within 24-48 hours, you must arrange to remove and dispose of items.
In summary, filing an eviction is usually a lose lose scenario for both parties. It is much better to try and work out a payment plan, even if it takes months for tenant to get current. This of course assumes the tenants have the ability to pay rent. If no funds are coming in, you have little choice but to file the eviction and get legal possession of the property. For tenants not willing to work out a payment plan, you most likely will not receive any rents once you file the eviction. At best, your court date will be set the following month resulting in two months of lost rent plus another 30-60 days to lease the property. Add make ready, repair costs, and leasing fees, and this can add up to thousands of dollars.
Our office processes rents by credit card, check or money order, check by phone, and/or bank draft of tenant’s/ family member’s bank account(s). Offering a wide range of payment collection methods can sometimes really help in collecting rents. Family member may not have cash, but many can use credit card to help family member. If you have any questions or need a sample vacate notice, please call our office at 512-257-9836.