Our company manages over 300 properties. We always try and work things out with tenants when there is a problem paying rent. Our yearly eviction is very low (less than 2%), and we only file when tenants are not able to pay rent and have no source of income. Eviction is always a lose-lose scenario for both landlord and tenant.
We recently received an eviction judgment for a tenant for non payment of rent in Justice of the Peace court. The tenants moved into home after paying their security deposit through our ACH system, and their first month’s rent draft was returned NSF. While we have many issues with tenants paying rent in a timely manner, this was the first time we evicted a tenant for not paying the first month’s rent. Their rent draft bounced in the online tenant portal.
Tenant did not respond to email correspondence or calls, so we filed the eviction. The judge awarded a judgment for possession and amount of past due rent. Once the landlord receives a judgment, the tenant has five days to either vacate property or file an appeal. If an appeal is not filed and tenants fail to vacate within five days, we file a writ of possession. This allows the constable to place a notice on the door, and we remove the tenant’s personal items and place them on the curb.
The tenants filed an appeal as a pauper on day five. This allows them to appeal the case without a bond. Usually a bond is required, but this is waived if tenant file as a pauper. However, the tenants are required to pay one month’s rent into the court registry within five days of filing the appeal. Most don’t pay into the court registry. This allows them to buy more time and get five more days to live in home before a writ of possession can be issued.
Surprisingly, the tenants did pay the first month’s rent into the court registry. Once they do, the Justice of The Peace court forwards the file to the county court. The tenants are required to pay additional monthly rents until a hearing is held. We were surprised the tenants paid the first month’s rent, because these funds will be surrendered to the landlord if landlord receives judgment in county court. Most file the appeal and don’t pay the rent into court registry.
Once file goes to county court, we cannot represent the landlord as the property manager. An attorney must be hired, or the landlord must file all motions and judgment paperwork pro se. The county court does not file any paperwork. This is why the landlord should hire an attorney. In JP court, the judge will prepare and sign the judgment. This is not the case in county court.
Our client filed the paper work pro se without hiring an attorney. We did however assist the landlord in presenting the case to the judge. The tenant failed to pay the two most recent month’s rent to the court registry and breached the appeal rules by not paying the additional rents when due.
The hearing lasted only a few minutes. Unless there is a legal reason to not pay rent, the landlord will usually prevail in court and receive the judgment as long as paperwork is filed properly. The judge awarded the landlord a judgment for two month’s rent plus a reletting fee for breach of lease. Additionally, the judge agreed to release the first month’s rent received in court registry to the landlord and agreed to sign a writ of possession within three days.
In summary, it can be very challenging in dealing with the eviction process. Most landlords don’t understand the rules and requirements. Hiring a property manager can help you deal with these issues in the event an eviction is needed.
If you have any questions, please call us at 512-257-9836. Our office provides sales, leasing, property management, and mortgage services