Once you've determined that the tenant has broken a provision of the lease agreement (for example - failed to pay rent), you must provide the tenant a notice to vacate for the length of time laid out by the lease. Often times, the landlord may simply send a written notice to the tenant that cites the breach of lease and makes demand for possession of the premises but also offers to forgive the breach if the rent is paid. Be sure to put the notice in writing (not just tell the tenant of the breach) because, if you go to court, the judge will ask to see a copy of the letter. Also, importantly, when sending the letter, I would recommend that you send it via Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested (so you can prove both transmission of the letter and, if applicable, receipt).
If you do not have a written lease agreement, you should consult an attorney or research the Texas Property Code for the proper way to give notice.
Find your local Justice of the Peace to File Suit
The Texas Property Code cites that an action for eviction must be brought in the precinct where the property is located. Therefore, locate the nearest Justice of the Peace ("JP") to the subject property. You will likely need to visit the JP's office in person in order to fill out the appropriate forms to bring suit.
- Ask the clerk for a Petition in Eviction (or Petition for Forcible Entry and Detainer);
-Complete the forms and return to the Clerk with the filing fee. The clerk will then arrange for a copy of the paperwork to be sent to the tenant at the property's address.
-The court will send all parties a date to appear.
Remember - if you are owed back rent money, you can also sue for a money judgment and late fees for the unpaid rents. Due to jurisdictional restrictions, however, you can only recover a maximum of $10,000 from an action in JP court.
Also remember - the court staff WILL NOT give you legal advice. If you have questions (as people often do), call a lawy
Go to Trial
On the day of court, both parties will need to appear. In the event that the landlord appears and the tenant does not, a Default Judgment will be granted to landlord. In the event that the tenant appears for court and landlord does not, the case will be dismissed.
If both parties appear for trial, the landlord will need to present evidence to demonstrate the breach of the lease agreement and that he/she is entitled to possession of the premises. If a breach is proven, then the judge will likely grant the eviction.
If the judge rules in your favor, the tenant will have 5 days to appeal the case or move from the premises. In the event the case is appealed by Defendant, it will be reheard in County Court.
The important part of going to trial is being organized and clearly demonstrating your right to possession of the premises because of a breach of your agreement with the tenant. Dress appropriately, turn off your cell phone and be on time.