Texas Eviction Process

Last Updated: November 11, 2021 by Elizabeth Souza

Timeline. Evicting a tenant in Texas can take about four to ten weeks (or more) depending on the type of eviction and whether tenants request a continuance/appeal (read more).

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

Introduction. Texas evictions are governed by the Texas Property Code, landlords should follow these rules for a valid and lawful eviction process. Below are the individual steps of the eviction process in Texas.

Step 1: Notice is Posted

Landlords in Texas can begin the eviction process for several reasons, including:

  1. Nonpayment of Rent – Once rent is past due, a landlord must give the tenant written notice before moving forward with the eviction action.
  2. Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement – If a tenant violates a provision of a written lease or rental agreement (including illegal activity), the landlord isn’t required give tenants an opportunity to correct the issue before pursuing an eviction.
  3. No Lease / End of Lease Term (Tenant at Will) – If there is no lease or the term of the lease has ended, the landlord does not need any additional reason to end the tenancy if proper notice is given.
  4. Foreclosure of Rental Property – If the rental property is foreclosed upon, tenants must receive written notice prior to eviction.
NOTES
  • Retaliatory Evictions. It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for complaining to the landlord or to the appropriate local or government agency regarding the property. It is also illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for joining, supporting, or organizing a tenant organization or union.
  • Evicting a Squatter. If the individual occupying the property did not have the permission of the person who owns the property when initially moving in, then the landlord/owner may give written or oral notice to the squatter to move out and would follow the eviction process outlined in this article starting with Step 2 (read more).
  • Notice Requirements. In Texas, when a landlord gives notice to a tenant, there are certain service methods they must follow. Service methods include: delivering 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. Notice may also be given 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.

Each possible ground for eviction has its own rules for how the process starts.

Eviction Process for Nonpayment of 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, landlords are not required to give tenants the option to pay rent to avoid eviction; however, if they choose to give notice, the landlord must provide a 3-Day Notice to Quit. If the lease agreement states that the landlord must give notice to the tenant, the landlord must proceed and deliver notice to the tenant, this notice may be shorter or longer than the 3-Day Notice to Quit.

The 3-Day Notice to Quit begins on the date the notice was delivered to the tenant (weekends and holidays are included in the timeframe).

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.

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Eviction Process for Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement

A tenant can be evicted in Texas if they do not uphold their responsibilities under the terms of a written lease or rental agreement.

A landlord may issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit for a lease violation.

Typical lease violations under this category could include things like damaging the rental property, having too many people residing in the rental unit, and having a pet when there’s a no-pet policy.

Illegal activity is included in this category. Tenants involved in illegal activity do not have the opportunity to correct the issue prior to eviction.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

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Eviction Process for No Lease / End of Lease

In the state of Texas, if tenants “hold over,” or stay in the rental unit after the rental term has expired, then the landlord must give tenants notice before evicting them. This can include tenants without a written lease and week-to-week and month-to-month tenants.

Often this type of eviction applies to tenants who are at the end of their lease and the landlord doesn’t want to renew.

The amount of time required in the notice depends on the type of tenancy.

  • Written or Verbal Lease – If the tenant had a verbal or written lease that has expired, the landlord must provide the tenant with a 3-Day Notice to Quit.
  • Less Than Month-to-Month – If rent is paid on less than a month-to-month basis, 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, a landlord must provide the tenant with one months’ written 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.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

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Eviction Process for Foreclosure of Rental Property

If the rental property is foreclosed upon, and the lease will not be renewed, tenants must receive 30 days’ written notice prior to beginning an eviction action.

In these situations, there is nothing the tenant can do to “cure” the issue and must move out.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

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Step 2: Complaint is Filed and Served

As the next step in the eviction process, Texas landlords must file a complaint/petition in the appropriate Justice of the Peace Court. This costs about $46 in filing fees.

The summons and complaint/petition will be served on 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.

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 six days. The citation and petition/complaint must be filed at least six days before the hearing.

Step 3: Court Hearing and Judgment

The eviction hearing will be held 10-21 days after the petition/complaint is filed with the court.

Defendants 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. A jury may be requested three days before the trial.

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.

NOTES

Immediate Possession. If the landlord asks for immediate possession, they must give the tenant notice of this request. 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.

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 the rental unit, and gives them the opportunity to remove their belongings before the sheriff or constable returns to the property to forcibly remove the tenant.

If the court has ruled in the landlord’s favor, a writ of possession shall be requested by the landlord and will be issued no earlier than six days after the judgment has been issued for the landlord. Unless immediate possession was filed, approved and granted under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure as outlined in Step 3, in which case the writ of possession will be issued prior to the hearing.

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 move out before the sheriff or constable returns to forcibly remove them 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.

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

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.