Are you a landlord in Texas? Well, understanding the state's eviction process is crucial, as it is inevitable. At some point, you may have to terminate the tenancy, and you must do it properly and legally. So how do you go about the eviction process? This article will cover the legal reasons for eviction, those against it, and how to do it legally. Read on!
Reasons to Evict a Tenant in Texas
While the eviction laws differ from county to county in Texas, they all follow the same process. This also applies to the reasons for and against eviction. Here are the legally recognized reasons for eviction.
Failure to Pay Rent on Time
Rent is the monthly amount your tenant pays for occupying a particular premise. Like most landlords or property managers, you have a deadline for your tenants to pay rent. If a tenant exceeds the date without payment, they are late on rent.
Depending on your agreement with the tenant, you may have a grace period after the deadline. If they fail to pay on time, even with the grace period included, you can evict them.
Before the eviction, the law requires that you give the tenant an official written notice to Vacate (3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit). If they pay their rent within these three days, you cannot evict them. However, if they are unable to pay, you can proceed with the eviction process.
Lease or Rental Agreement Violation
Before a tenant enters your premises, a landlord must hand them a rental lease agreement. It has clauses for the tenant's and the landlord's obligations. While most people assume that it is standard for all tenants, it differs from one to the next.
If the tenant violates the listed agreement terms, you should issue them a 3-Day Notice to Cure Violations or Vacate. If the tenant resolves the issue on time, the process ceases. If they do not, it continues.
Some of the common violations of the lease and rental agreement include:
- Overstaying their time as indicated on the lease
- Causing disturbance to other tenants
- Property damage
- Defying non-smoking rules
- Having pets in pet-free areas
Related Reading: How to Become a Landlord in Texas
Lack of Lease Renewal After the Rental Period
The laws in Texas forbid eviction without probable cause. This means a tenant can stay for as long as their rental period is over if they violate no rules.
However, if they stay on the property after their lease period is over and they have not made any arrangements for renewal, you can issue a 30-Day Notice to Vacate.
As a landlord, it is important to note that your responsibility is not to remind them to renew. Once it is over, they should make arrangements for renewal or vacate.
Conducting Illegal Activities
Have you caught your tenant conducting illegal activities while on the premises? Well, if this happens, you must issue a 3-Day Notice to Vacate. Once you find proof, you must contact the police and present it.
It is your responsibility as a landlord to keenly check on your tenants to ensure no illegal business happens on your premises. Some of the typical illegal activities you might deal with include:
- Drugs creation, distribution, or consumption
- Illegally subletting the property
- Assault and violence
- Instances of theft
Foreclosure on the property is a sad and inevitable situation you might face on your premises. In such a case, the tenants cannot renew their lease.
Once you receive the legal document on foreclosure, you must issue a non-negotiable 30-Day Notice to Vacate. If they refuse to leave within the period, proceed to evict them.
Reasons Landlords Cannot Evict Tenants in Texas
Now that you know the reasons for eviction in Texas, why can't you evict your tenant? Here are five illegal reasons for evictions that could land you in trouble.
Evicting a tenant based on race is a clear violation of the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, among other stats. As a landlord, you cannot treat tenants differently based on their race, deny them housing, or evict them because of their race.
Similarly, discriminating against someone based on their sex or gender is illegal. This includes evicting someone because they are male or female, transgender, or gender non-conforming.
Landlords cannot treat tenants differently based on their country of origin, ancestry, or ethnicity. All these are provisions as set by the Fair Housing Act of Texas.
Landlords are required by law to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities, and they cannot evict someone simply because they have a disability. The category includes physical and mental disabilities and a history of drug or alcohol addiction.
Discriminating against tenants based on their family status is also illegal. This includes whether they have children, are pregnant, or plan to have children. Landlords cannot evict tenants or deny them housing based on their family status.
Types of Notice in Texas
There are three different types of eviction notices in Texas that you must know about. You must present the right one in a court of law. Failure to do so may result in the tenant challenging it in court.
3-Day Notice to Quit (Non-Payment)
As the name suggests, this applies when a tenant does not comply with the set rental payment schedule. If they haven't paid rent in time, you will serve them with this notice that requires them to pay the rent within 72 hours.
However, the notice will be nullified if they pay the rent within these three days. If they do not, you can proceed with the eviction process.
3-Day Notice to Quit (Non-Compliant)
If the tenant has violated the lease agreement, this is the right notice to serve. The tenant must correct the breach within 72 hours or leave the property.
Nevertheless, there is an unconditional 3-Day Non-Compliance notice for serious offenses. These do not allow a tenant to redeem themselves.
30-Day Eviction Notice
If your tenant is on flexible monthly agreements, you can end the tenancy without cause if you give this eviction notice.
When issued, the tenant has 30 days to vacate the premises. However, the notice will be nullified if you continue to accept rental payments.
Related Reading: How Much Can a Landlord Raise Rent in Texas?
Steps of the Eviction Process in Texas
The eviction process in Texas involves several steps. This means that you will not oust the tenant that very day. Each step takes time, and the tenant will still be on the particular premises during the process. Here are the steps to follow as a landlord.
Written Notice for Vacation
Once you have probable cause to evict a tenant, you must give them written notice to vacate. In this notification, you will explain why you want them to vacate.
According to eviction laws in Texas, you must state the time the tenant has to vacate or rectify the issue at hand. Unless the lease states otherwise, it should be at least 3 days.
However, if you have a federally-supported mortgage or participate in any federal programs, the notice goes all the way to 30 days.
Filing the Eviction Suit
When the time stated in the notice elapses, you can proceed to file an eviction suit. As the eviction laws in Texas require, you must file the suit in a court of justice within the property's jurisdiction.
With the suit already filed, you have at least six days to serve the tenant with the papers. You can contact your sheriff or constable to serve the papers on the tenant or a household member not less than 16 years old.
If the sheriff or constable has tried serving the papers twice but hasn't been successful, the court will allow you to use other means to serve them. They include having the papers in the mail slot, fixing it at the front door, or slipping it under the front door.
If the tenant disagrees with the claims on the notice, they can file a written answer. If no answer is received, both of you (tenant and landlord) will need to appear for a court hearing 10 to 20 days after filing the lawsuit.
After the hearing comes the issuance of the judgment. During the hearing, you have the right to request a jury at least three days before the trial. If the court ruling is against you, you can appeal before the property is removed from the rental.
Writ of Possession
After the final judgment has been passed and all deadlines have expired, you will ask the judge to issue a Writ of Possession. With this document, you have the full right to execute the eviction after 24 hours. The tenant will be required to get all their belongings from your rental unit.
It is important to note that the Writ of Possession cannot be issued more than 60 days after the signing of the judgment. However, the court can allow 90 days for a good cause. This Writ of Possession will not be executed after the 90th day after the signing of the judgment.
How to Deliver Termination Notices in Texas
The law stipulates various ways to deliver termination notices to tenants in Texas. It will be handed over to the county sheriff to get it to the tenant. Here are a few ways they will use.
This is when the court official delivers the notices to the tenant in person.
If the sheriff or constable cannot reach and serve the notice to the tenant, they will give it to a person in the household, provided they are over 16.
Via Mail and Post
If none of the above works, the court will allow you to send the documents via mail or post. The sheriff can also place it in a secure and visible place, mostly at the entrance of the rented property.
If everything fails to serve them, the judge will allow pinning the notice at their front door and sliding it under the front door.
As you can see, the eviction process in Texas is pretty straightforward as long as you follow the legal requirements and procedures. As a landlord, you must have a valid reason for evicting a tenant, provide proper notice, and follow the eviction steps until you obtain the Writ of Possession. It is essential to ensure that you do everything by the book to avoid legal complications and delays.
While you can handle the process independently, seeking legal advice from an attorney is wise. It will help you eliminate any challenges and ensure that your rights and those of the tenants are well protected. With the right approach and legal assistance, you can be sure of an effective eviction process.