This guide will summarize briefly the eviction process in Texas and what to expect along each step of the way.
NOTICE TO VACATE
The first thing that must be done in Texas when trying to evict someone is a notice to vacate. Texas has several requirements that the notice must contain in order for it to be a lawful notice. There are many reasons that one would give their tenant a notice to vacate such as: nonpayment of rent, holding over beyond the lease term, violating a provision of the lease, hold over tenant from a foreclosure purchase, and many more. The notice is one of the MOST IMPORTANT steps in the eviction process and not having a proper notice sent can cause the judge not to rule in your favor. The notice to vacate puts the tenant on notice that they have a certain number of days to vacate the property or an eviction suit will be filed against them. The number of days is typically three (3) or thirty (30), however, it can be different depending on the situation and your lease agreement. The notice should state the reason for the eviction with enough specificity that it allows the tenant to prepare a defense. The notice shall be given by mail or in person or both.
If the tenant refuses to leave the property after the notice has been properly given, a lawsuit will need to be filed at the justice court in the precinct in which the property is located. Each county varies as to what is required when filing to evict a tenant. However, must counties require several key documents that must be filed so that the eviction proceeding can officially begin.
After the filing of the petition for eviction and proper service of citation has been accomplished, the case will be brought before a Justice of the Peace Court Judge to determine whether the plaintiff (landlord/property owner) is entitled to relief. To prevail in a forcible detainer action, the plaintiff must prove only sufficient evidence to demonstrate a superior right to possession of the property. If the landlord can convince the court he has superior right of possession the judge will award a judgment in his favor.
WRIT OF POSSESSION
Once a landlord has been given a judgment against the tenant(s) for possession and possibly back rent from the property, a five (5) day period begins. The landlord must wait 5 days from the date of the judgment before he can do anything. After the 5 days have expired, there are three possible things that could happen: (1) the tenant could move out; (2) the tenant could stay in the home; or (3) the tenant can appeal the judgment to the County Court. If the tenant stays in the home and does not appeal, the landlord can request a Writ of Possession. This will authorize a constable to remove the tenant(s) from your home.
The tenant can appeal the eviction within 5 days after the initial eviction hearing. The tenant either has to post an appeal bond set by the Judge at the eviction hearing or can file a Statement of Inability to Pay Rent. The Statement of Inability to Pay Rent requires the tenant to explain why they can not afford to pay the appeal bond amount that is set by the Judge at the eviction hearing. Whether the tenant posts the appeal bond or files the inability to pay rent affidavit, the case will be transferred to the County Court in that same county to retry the case from the beginning to show why the landlord is or is not entitled to the property.
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