Property ManagementHow to Do an Eviction in Texas

As a landlord in Texas, understanding the eviction process is crucial to managing your rental property effectively. Evictions are sensitive matters and must be handled legally and ethically. This guide outlines the steps involved in evicting a tenant in Texas.

Step 1: Establish a Valid Reason for Eviction

Before starting the eviction process, ensure you have a legally valid reason. Common reasons include non-payment of rent, violation of lease terms, or causing significant damage to the property. Note that our management company will only perform evictions for nonpayment of rent situations, and we recommend that property owners hire an attorney for any other types of eviction because of increased complexity. 

Step 2: Provide a Written Notice to Vacate

Texas law requires landlords to provide a written notice to vacate before filing an eviction suit. This notice should be delivered in person or by mail. The notice period typically is three days unless stated otherwise in the lease agreement. However, in situations where there is an oral lease, it is strongly advisable to provide a 30 day notice of termination of the lease, followed by a notice to vacate. Many justice courts in Texas may dismiss an eviction lawsuit in an oral lease scenario where a landlord has failed to provide a 30 day notice.  

Step 3: File an Eviction Suit

If the tenant does not comply with the notice to vacate, you can file an eviction suit, also known as a forcible entry and detainer suit, at your local Justice of the Peace Court. You’ll need to provide documentation, such as the lease agreement, the tenant ledger and the notice to vacate. It is also critically important to provide a Military Status Affidavit and a print out from the SCRA website. These documents provide evidence that the tenant is not on active duty in the military, and thereby protected from eviction. 

Step 4: Attend the Court Hearing

Both landlord and tenant will receive a notice of the hearing date. It’s crucial to attend this hearing and present your case, including any evidence of the tenant’s violation. Be prepared with all relevant documents and photographs if necessary. Most tenants do not show up to the hearing, but even when tenants do appear, bench trials for evictions typically take less than five minutes. The judge will ask for a copy of any written lease and a tenant ledger showing any delinquent rent. 

Step 5: Obtain a Judgment

If the judge rules in your favor, you will receive a judgment for possession. This means the tenant must leave the property. In some cases, you might also get a judgment for any unpaid rent or damages.

Step 6: Writ of Possession

If the tenant does not leave by the date ordered by the judge or within five days from the date of judgment, you can request a writ of possession. The writ authorizes a constable or sheriff to remove the tenant and their belongings from the property.

Step 7: Executing the Writ of Possession

Law enforcement officers will post a notice giving the tenant 24 hours to vacate. After this period, the officers can forcibly remove the tenant. As a landlord, you’re responsible for handling any property left behind in accordance with Texas property laws. This usually involves hiring movers to meet the constable at the premises to set out any tenant personal property on the street. The property owner or management company will also want to schedule a locksmith to change the locks contemporaneously with the time the writ is being executed. 

Key Tips and Legal Considerations:

  • Follow Legal Procedures: Always adhere to Texas state laws during the eviction process to avoid legal complications.
  • Documentation: Keep detailed records of all interactions, notices, and legal steps taken.
  • No Self-Help Evictions: Lockouts, utility shutoffs, or removing the tenant’s property without a court order are illegal.
  • Seek Legal Advice: Consider consulting with a lawyer experienced in landlord-tenant law to navigate complex situations.

Conclusion

Eviction is a legal tool available to landlords but must be used correctly and responsibly. Understanding and following the proper legal procedures is crucial to a successful and fair eviction process. 

Remember, evictions can be challenging and emotionally charged situations. It’s always beneficial to communicate clearly with tenants and seek amicable solutions before resorting to eviction. If you are property owner of single family rentals, you may want to hire an attorney and/or property manager to assist with the eviction process. 

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