Texas Eviction Process

Texas Eviction Process

Last Updated: June 16, 2022 by Elizabeth Souza

In Texas, a landlord has the legal right to evict a tenant for any reason below:

  • Failure to pay rent.
  • Staying after their lease ends (after given property notice).
  • Not upholding the terms of their lease.
  • Not upholding their responsibilities under Texas Property Code.

The eviction process can be completed in four to ten weeks but may take longer. All evictions follow the same step-by-step process:

  1. The landlord gives the tenant notice to vacate.
  2. If the issue isn’t resolved in time, the landlord files a petition with the county court.
  3. The court serves the tenant with a Petition and Citation.
  4. The tenant can contest. If they don’t, the landlord files a motion to obtain Judgment.
  5. If the court grants it, a Writ of Possession is distributed.
  6. Finally, the sheriff returns possession of the property to the landlord.

Below we’ll start by discussing each legal reason for an eviction (or skip ahead to the 1st step of the process).

Questions? To chat with a Texas eviction attorney, Click here

Texas Eviction Grounds   on iPropertyManagement.com

Grounds for an Eviction in Texas

Landlords in Texas can begin the eviction process for several reasons.

Eviction for Failure to Pay Rent

A landlord is allowed to evict a tenant for failing to pay rent on time.

According to Texas law, rent is late if not paid two full days after the due date. In Texas, a landlord does not need to give the tenant a chance to cure the violation. If the tenant does not move out before the notice period expires and remains on the property, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

Eviction for Violation of Lease or Responsibilities

A tenant can be evicted in Texas if they do not uphold their responsibilities under the terms of a written lease and Texas Property Code Chapter 92.

In Texas, all violations are considered as incurable violations meaning that the tenant does not have the opportunity to fix it. 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.

Evictions for No Lease / End of Lease

In Texas, a landlord can end a tenancy at any time if there is no written lease in place or if the lease term has ended (“Tenancy at Will”), regardless of whether rent has been paid on time. Often this type of eviction applies to tenants who are at the end of their lease and the landlord doesn’t want to renew.

Once the tenancy ends, if the tenant remains on the property, the landlord can move forward with the eviction process.

To legally end a tenancy, the landlord must first give proper notice to move out. The amount of notice varies based on how often rent is paid.

  • Written or Verbal Lease – If the tenant had a verbal or written lease that has expired, the landlord must give 3 days’ notice.
  • Less Than Month-to-Month – If rent is paid less than month-to-month, a landlord must provide the tenant with the same amount of notice as one rental period;  for example, week-to-week tenants would receive at least seven days’ notice.
  • Month-to-Month – If rent is paid on a month-to-month basis (most common), a landlord must give 30 days’ notice.
  • More Than Once a Month – If rent is paid more frequently than once a month, the tenancy shall end on the later of the day given in the notice or the day following the number of days equal to how often the tenant pays rent. For example, if a tenant pays the landlord every 20 days, the notice shall be a 20 Days’ Notice.

Illegal Landlord Retaliatory Evictions

It is illegal for a landlord to evict in response to a tenant exercising a legally protected right. These tenant’s rights include:

  • Complaining/giving notice to the landlord about an issue with the property.
  • Contacting a local or government agency about an issue with the property.
  • Joining, supporting or organizing a tenant union or organization.
  • Pursuing legal action.

Landlord retaliatory conduct includes:

  • Interrupting any utility service (i.e., water, electricity, heat, etc.) that the tenant is entitled to.
  • Preventing reasonable access to the property (i.e., changing the locks).
  • Raising the rent.
  • Ending the lease.
  • Evicting a tenant for complaint about an issue with the property with a six-month time frame form the date the tenant made the complaint.

Illegal Eviction on iPropertyManagement.com

Consequences of Illegal Evictions

Retaliatory conduct is considered as a “self-help” eviction and is illegal in Texas. Landlords who are found guilty of retaliation can be sued by their tenants. Landlords can be liable for property damage, actual expenses, civil penalties, attorneys’ fees, and moving costs. The tenant can recover one month’s rent plus an additional $500.

Landlords must have legal reason to pursue an eviction action and cannot terminate a lease agreement without cause. In Texas, landlords must win the eviction lawsuit to legally remove a tenant.

Removing a Squatter

If the individual occupying the property does not have a lease (or verbal agreement) with the landlord and no history of paying rent, they do not have a landlord/tenant relationship, and as a result, the process for their removal is different.

Click here to learn more about the differences in the legal processes for removing tenants and squatters in Texas.

Eviction notice posted on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 1: Notice is Posted

Each reason for eviction has its own type of eviction notice form:

  1. 3-Day Notice to Quit – for failing to pay rent.
  2. 3-Day Unconditional Quit Notice – for incurable violations (i.e., illegal activity, damage to the property, etc.).
  3. 3/7/20/30 Notice to Quit – for no lease/end of the lease. Amount of notice varies based on how often rent is paid.

To fill out, download and print any of the above forms, click here.

The notice must be served to the tenant by one of the following methods:

  1. The landlord can deliver the notice in person to the tenant or to someone who is 16 years or older.
  2. The landlord may serve the notice by personal delivery to the rental unit and placing the notice on the inside of the main door.
  3. The landlord may serve the notice by regular, registered, or certified mail with a return receipt requested.
  4. 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.

Once proper notice is posted, the tenant has that number of to vacate the premises. If they don’t, the landlord may proceed with the next step of the eviction process.

Questions? To chat with a Texas eviction attorney, Click here

Eviction Complaint Filed on iPropertyManagement.com

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 ant 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:

  1. Giving a copy of the summons and complaint to the tenant in person; or
  2. Leaving a copy with someone over the age of 16 where the tenant lives.
  3. 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.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.comApproximately Six Days. The citation and petition/complaint must be filed at least six days before the hearing.

Eviction Court Hearing on iPropertyManagement.com

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.

NOTES

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.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com10-21 Days. The hearing must be held between 10 and 21 days after the petition/complaint is filed with the court.

Eviction Writ of Possession on iPropertyManagement.com

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.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.comApproximately 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.

Eviction property possession returned on iPropertyManagement.com

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.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com24 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.

Eviction Court Forms Fees on iPropertyManagement.com

Court Fees

Filing fees may vary in each county, please check with your local court to verify the fee. Most Texas court fees are as follows:

Service Filing Fee
Filing Fee for Eviction $46-$100
Trial Fee $22
Tenant’s Appeal $54
Writ of Possession $130-$175

Texas Eviction Process Timeline

Below is a summary of the aspects outside of the landlord’s control that dictate the amount of time it takes to evict a tenant in Texas. These timelines can vary greatly, and some time periods may not include weekends or legal holidays.

  1. Initial Notice Period – Between 3 and 30 days, depending on the reason for eviction.
  2. Issuance/Service of Summons and Petition – Six days prior to the hearing.
  3. Court Hearing and Ruling on the Eviction – 10-21 days, more if postponement is requested/appeal filed.
  4. Issuance of Writ of Possession – Six days after judgment is issued.
  5. Return of Possession – ~24 hours.
Questions? To chat with a Texas eviction attorney, Click here

Additional Information

Tenant’s Defenses for Fighting an Eviction. A tenant may have legal reason to fight or delay the eviction. Below are some common defenses:

  • The landlord changed the locks on the rental unit.
  • The landlord shuts of utilities and other essential services.
  • The tenant was served with an improper notice.
  • The landlord did not maintain the rental unit to live in safe and habitable conditions after the tenant gave the landlord written notice to fix the violation.
  • The tenant complains to a governmental agency regarding violations of building and housing codes and the landlord retaliates with an eviction case.
  • The landlord discriminates against the tenant based on national origin, race, religious, family status, gender, or disability.

Flowchart of Texas Eviction Process

Texas Eviction Process Flowchart on iPropertyManagement.com

For additional questions about the eviction process in Texas, please refer to the official state legislation, Texas Property Code §§24 and 9192 and Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules 500-510, for more information.

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