Steps of the eviction process in Texas:
- Landlord serves tenant written notice.
- Landlord files complaint with court (if unresolved).
- Court serves tenant with summons & complaint.
- Court holds hearing and issues judgment.
- Writ of possession is issued.
- Constable returns possession of property to landlord.
Evicting a tenant in Texas can take around one to three months, depending on the type of eviction. If tenants request a continuance or jury trial, the process can take longer.
Grounds for an Eviction in Texas
In Texas, a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant without cause. Legal grounds to evict include not paying rent on time, staying after the lease ends, violating lease terms or not upholding responsibilities under Texas law. Even so, proper notice must first be given before ending the tenancy.
|Nonpayment of Rent||3 Days||No|
|End of / No Lease||1 Month||No|
|Lease Violation||3 Days||No|
Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent
In Texas, a landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time. To do so, they must first give 3 days’ notice to vacate the premises. If the tenant does neither after that time, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.
Unless the lease states otherwise, rent is due at the beginning of each pay period and is considered late in Texas the day immediately after its due date. So for example, if rent is due on the first of the month, it is considered late starting on the second of the month (if not paid in full). However, there is a 2-day grace period in Texas. Late fees cannot be charged until rent is late by two full days.
Once rent is considered late, the landlord can begin the eviction process by serving the tenant with proper notice.
Eviction for No Lease or End of Lease
In Texas, a landlord can evict a tenant without a lease or with a lease that has ended (known as a “holdover tenant” or “tenant at will”). To do so, they must first terminate the tenancy by giving proper notice to move out (1 month for tenants that pay month-to-month).
Once the tenancy ends, if the tenant remains on the property, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.
Eviction for Violation of Lease or Responsibilities
In Texas, a landlord can evict a tenant for violating the terms of their lease or not upholding their responsibilities under Texas landlord-tenant law. To do so, landlords must first provide a 3 days’ to vacate. Landlords are not required to allow the tenant to fix the issue and they must move out.
Tenant responsibilities include:
- Keeping the premises clean and sanitary at all times.
- Keeping all security devices (i.e., smoke alarms) in good working condition.
- Not disturbing other tenants’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
Lease violation examples include:
- Illegal activity.
- Unauthorized pets.
- Disturbing other tenants or neighbors.
- Not keeping the premises clean and sanitary.
- Not informing the landlord of any defects or maintenance issues.
- Not making small repairs or completing maintenance pursuant to the lease agreement.
Illegal Evictions in Texas
In Texas, any of the below is illegal.
No matter the situation, a landlord is not allowed to forcibly remove a tenant by:
- Changing the locks.
- Shutting off utilities.
- Removing tenant belongings.
- Removing a door or window.
If found liable, the landlord could be required to pay the tenant an amount equal to 1 month’s rent plus $1,000, actual damages sustained, expenses incurred and civil penalties. An additional civil penalty of 1 month’s rent can be included as a remedy if the landlord prevents a tenant from entering the dwelling unit.
A tenant can only be legally removed with a court order obtained through the formal eviction process.
It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant in response to exercising a legally protected right. These rights include:
- Complaining or giving notice to the landlord about an issue with the property.
- Contacting a local or government agency about an issue related to a building or housing code violation.
- Joining, supporting or organizing a tenant union or organization.
- Pursuing legal action.
If found liable, the landlord could be required to pay the tenant a civil penalty of one month’s rent, $500, actual damages sustained, court costs, reasonable attorney’s fees, moving costs and actual expenses incurred.
Step 1: Landlord Serves Notice to Tenant
A landlord can begin the eviction process in Texas by serving the tenant with written notice. The notice must be delivered by one of the following methods:
- The landlord can deliver the notice in person to the tenant or to someone who is 16 years or older.
- The landlord may serve the notice by personal delivery to the rental unit and placing the notice on the inside of the main door.
- The landlord may serve the notice by regular, registered, or certified mail with a return receipt requested.
If these service methods aren’t possible due to a dangerous animal, an alarm system, or the landlord feels that the tenant may cause harm on them, the landlord may place the notice on the outside of the main door in a sealed envelope no later than 5:00 pm (the sealed envelope must have the tenant’s name, address, and “Important Document” in all caps (or similar wording) written on the outside). The landlord must also mail a copy to the tenant on the same day.
It is important for a landlord to always maintain a copy of the signed and served notice as proof of proper service of notice.
3-Day Notice to Quit (Nonpayment)
If a tenant is late on paying rent (full or partial) in Texas, the landlord can serve them a 3-Day Notice to Quit. This notice gives the tenant 3 calendar days to vacate the premises. The tenant does not have the option to fix the issue and must move out.
1-Month Notice to Quit
For a tenant with no lease or a month-to-month lease in Texas, the landlord must serve them a 1-Month Notice to Quit to end the tenancy. This eviction notice allows the tenant 1 month to move out.
For tenants that don’t pay monthly, the amount of notice differs:
|Rent Payment Frequency||Notice Amount|
|Verbal Lease||3 Days|
3-Day Notice to Quit (Lease Violation)
In Texas, if a tenant commits a violation of the terms of their lease or legal responsibilities as a tenant, the landlord can serve them a 3-Day Notice to Quit. This notice gives the tenant 3 calendar to vacate the premises. The tenant does not have the option to fix the issue and must move out.
Step 2: Petition is Filed and Served
If the notice period ends and the tenant remains on the property, the next step in the eviction process requires the landlord to file a petition with the appropriate Justice of the Peace Court in Texas. In most counties, this costs around $46-$100 in filing fees.
The petition should include the following information:
- The landlord and tenant’s legal name and contact information.
- The tenant’s date of birth, last three digits of their driver’s license, and last three digits of their social security number.
- The address of the rental property.
- Grounds for eviction (nonpayment of rent, lease violation, holdover tenant, etc.) and the reason for eviction.
- The eviction notice date and delivery method.
- If the landlord is suing for rent or not.
- If the landlord is filing a bond for possession or not.
- If the tenant is in the military and on active duty.
- Other addresses of where the tenant can be served notice.
- The landlord’s request for a jury trial and consent for the tenant’s answer to be sent by email.
- Obtain a signature of a notary of the Clerk of the Justice Court.
Once the petition is filed, the court will create a citation which will be served to the tenant by the sheriff or constable at least six days prior to the eviction hearing.
The citation and complaint must be served on the tenant through one of the following methods:
- Giving a copy of the summons and complaint to the tenant in person; or
- Leaving a copy with someone over the age of 16 where the tenant lives.
- If neither of those methods work, the tenant could be served via first class mail AND by leaving a copy of the citation and complaint in the mail slot or chute, under the door, or posted on the door of the rental unit.
Approximately 6 Days. The citation and petition/complaint must be filed at least six days before the hearing.
Step 3: Court Hearing and Judgment
Once the process server (i.e., a sheriff) has delivered the tenant with a copy of the complaint, the tenant may choose to respond to (“contest”) the petition. Tenants may file a written answer with the court within 14 days of receiving the complaint, but this is not a requirement, and the tenant will still be able to respond to the eviction at the hearing even without a written answer.
The eviction hearing will be held 10-21 days after the petition/complaint is filed with the court. A jury may be requested three days before the trial and the trial fee is $22.
To prepare for the hearing the landlord and tenant should bring the following:
- A copy of the lease agreement.
- The notice to quit or to pay.
- The complaint.
- Any evidence (i.e., photos of damage, billing statements, etc.) or witnesses to help prove the case in court,
Either party may request a postponement of the trial not to exceed seven days.
If the tenant fails to appear at the hearing, a default judgment in favor of the landlord may be issued. If the tenant disagrees with the petition, the landlord and tenant may choose to settle the dispute outside of court. If the tenant and landlord both come to an agreement, the landlord can file a nonsuit, which is a dismissal of the eviction lawsuit. If they cannot agree, the hearing will move forward.
Immediate Possession. If the landlord filed for immediate possession, they must give the tenant Notice of Request to vacate if the landlord wins the eviction. If the tenant doesn’t respond or appear at the hearing, the tenant will have seven days from the date they received the notice of the request for immediate possession to move out of the rental unit.
If the judge rules in favor of the landlord at the hearing, a Writ of Possession will be issued and the eviction process will proceed.
An appeal may be filed, but it must be done within five days of when the judgment is signed by the judicial officer. An appeal would halt the eviction process and generally costs $54 in filing fees.
10-21 Days. The hearing must be held between 10 and 21 days after the petition/complaint is filed with the court.
Step 4: Writ of Possession Is Issued
The Writ of Possession is the tenant’s final notice to leave and allows them the opportunity to remove their belongings before the sheriff returns to the property. The filing fee for a Writ of Possession is generally $130 to $175 and shall be issued no earlier than six days after the landlord wins the eviction suit.
Approximately Six Days. The Writ of Possession will not be issued until six days after the judgment in the landlord’s favor, or seven days after the tenant receives notice of the request for immediate possession.
Step 5: Possession of Property is Returned
A tenant has at least 24 hours after the writ of possession is posted on the property to vacate. If the notice period has ended sheriff or constable will return to forcibly remove the tenant from the premises.
The sheriff or constable may choose to return 36 hours later or even a few days later, but they must wait at least 24 hours after the writ was posted to remove the tenant.
24 Hours. The tenant has at least 24 hours once the Writ of Possession has been posted on the property to move out of the rental unit.
Filing fees may vary in each county, please check with your local court to verify the fee. Most Texas court fees are as follows:
|Filing Fee for Eviction||$46-$100|
|Writ of Possession||$130-$175|
Texas Eviction Process Timeline
In Texas, an eviction can be completed in 1 to 3 months but can take longer depending on the reason for eviction, whether the eviction is contested, which days courts are (or aren’t) in session and other various possible delays.
Below are the parts of the Texas eviction process outside the control of landlords for cases that go uncontested.
|Initial Notice Period||3-30 Calendar Days|
|Court Issuing Summons||6 Business Days|
|Court Ruling||10-21 Business Days|
|Court Serving Writ of Possession||6 Business Days|
|Final Notice Period||24 Hours|
Flowchart of Texas Eviction Process
For additional questions about the eviction process in Texas, please refer to the official state legislation, Texas Property Code §§24 and 91–92 and Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules 500-510, for more information.
- 1 TX Prop Code §24.005 (2021)
NOTICE TO VACATE PRIOR TO FILING EVICTION SUIT. (a) If the occupant is a tenant under a written lease or oral rental agreement, the landlord must give a tenant who defaults or holds over beyond the end of the rental term or renewal period at least three days’ written notice to vacate the premises before the landlord files a forcible detainer suit, unless the parties have contracted for a shorter or longer notice period in a written lease or agreement. A landlord who files a forcible detainer suit on grounds that the tenant is holding over beyond the end of the rental term or renewal period must also comply with the tenancy termination requirements of Section 91.001.
- 2 TX Prop Code §92.019 (2021)
(a) A landlord may not collect from a tenant a late fee for failing to pay any portion of the tenant’s rent unless:…(3) any portion of the tenant’s rent has remained unpaid two full days after the date the rent was originally due.
- 3 TX Prop Code §91.001 (2019)
(b) If a notice of termination is given under Subsection (a) and if the rent-paying period is at least one month, the tenancy terminates on whichever of the following days is the later:(1) the day given in the notice for termination; or (2) one month after the day on which the notice is given.
- 4 TX Prop Code §24.005 (2019)
(a)…a tenant under a written lease or oral rental agreement, the landlord must give a tenant who defaults or holds over beyond the end of the rental term or renewal period at least three days’ written notice to vacate the premises…(b) If the occupant is a tenant at will or by sufferance, the landlord must give the tenant at least three days’ written notice to vacate…
- 5 TX Prop § 92.0081 (2021)
(2) recover from the landlord a civil penalty of one month’s rent plus $1,000, actual damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees in an action to recover property damages, actual expenses, or civil penalties, less any delinquent rent or other sums for which the tenant is liable to the landlord…(i) If a landlord violates Subsection (f), the tenant may recover, in addition to the remedies provided by Subsection (h), an additional civil penalty of one month’s rent.
- 6 TX Prop § 92.331 (2021)
(a) A landlord may not retaliate against a tenant by taking an action described by Subsection (b) because the tenant:
(1) in good faith exercises or attempts to exercise against a landlord a right or remedy granted to the tenant by lease, municipal ordinance, or federal or state statute;
(2) gives a landlord a notice to repair or exercise a remedy under this chapter;
(3) complains to a governmental entity responsible for enforcing building or housing codes, a public utility, or a civic or nonprofit agency, and the tenant:
(A) claims a building or housing code violation or utility problem; and
(B) believes in good faith that the complaint is valid and that the violation or problem occurred; or
(4) establishes, attempts to establish, or participates in a tenant organization.
- 7 TX Prop § 92.333 (2021)
…a landlord retaliates against a tenant under this subchapter, the tenant may recover from the landlord a civil penalty of one month’s rent plus $500, actual damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees in an action for recovery of property damages, moving costs, actual expenses, civil penalties, or declaratory or injunctive relief, less any delinquent rents or other sums for which the tenant is liable to the landlord. If the tenant’s rent payment to the landlord is subsidized in whole or in part by a governmental entity, the civil penalty granted under this section shall reflect the fair market rent of the dwelling plus $500.
- 8 TX Rules of Civ Proc Rule 510.4 (2019)
(b)(2) The constable, sheriff, or other person authorized by written court order receiving the citation must execute it by delivering a copy…to the defendant, or by leaving a copy with a copy of the petition attached with some person, other than the plaintiff, over the age of 16 years, at the defendant’s usual place of residence, at least 6 days before the day set for trial.
- 9 TX Rules of Civ Proc Rule 510.4 (2019)
(3)If the judge authorizes…(A) deliver a copy…by placing it through a door mail chute or slipping it under the front door; if neither method is possible, the officer may securely affix the citation to the front door or main entry to the premises; and (B) deposit in the mail a copy… addressed to defendant at the premises and sent by first class mail.
- 10 TX Rules of Civ Proc Rule 510.4 (2019)
(a)(10) state the day the defendant must appear in person for trial at the court issuing citation, which must not be less than 10 days nor more than 21 days after the petition is filed…
- 11 TX Rules of Civ Proc Rule 510.7 (2019)
(c) Trial in an eviction case must not be postponed for more than 7 days total unless both parties agree in writing.
- 12 TX Rules of Civ Proc Rule 510.9 (2019)
(a) A party may appeal a judgment in an eviction case by filing a bond, making a cash deposit, or filing a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs with the justice court within 5 days after the judgment is signed.
- 13 TX Prop Code §24.0061 (2019)
(b) A writ of possession may not be issued before the sixth day after the date on which the judgment for possession is rendered unless a possession bond has been filed and approved under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and judgment for possession is thereafter granted by default.
- 14 TX Prop Code §24.0061 (2019)
(d)(1) post a written warning of at least 8-1/2 by 11 inches on the exterior of the front door of the rental unit notifying the tenant that the writ has been issued and that the writ will be executed on or after a specific date and time stated in the warning not sooner than 24 hours after the warning is posted…