Being a landlord can be a hassle at times. You may have done everything you could to find a suitable tenant to rent your Texas home but unfortunately discovered they are violating one of the lease agreements. Violating a lease agreement or if your tenant doesn’t pay rent does give you cause to terminate the tenancy early but will have to be done correctly. However, the eviction process can be confusing, plus you need to follow all the requirements when giving your tenant notice to vacate that way, your case would hold up in eviction proceedings.
When faced with this situation, it is always a good idea to know what your landlord’s rights are and how evictions are handled in Texas. We’ll help cover all you need to know about the steps to an eviction, how long an eviction takes in Texas, how to avoid evictions, and if you can sell a house with a problem tenant, that way you can have a plan together for what your next move should be.
A Guide To Eviction Process In Texas
What Is An Eviction?
To begin, it’s helpful to understand what an eviction is precisely. Eviction is the removal of a tenant from a rental property. But to evict a tenant from the property, the landlord must first legally terminate the tenancy before proceeding with an eviction. Cause to terminate the tenancy is usually because the tenant violated one of the rental agreements (for example, noise issues or having pets in the home when known are allowed) or because they did not pay rent. There are also other notices of termination without cause, like notifying your tenant they need to move out by the end of their lease.
Whatever the cause for eviction, it’s important to handle this in a legal manner when it comes to evicting your tenant in Texas. Some landlords take matters into their hands and start shutting off electricity and water or change the locks, but in Texas, it’s illegal for a landlord to take self-help measures to remove tenants. Although the situation may be frustrating, it’s important to follow the legal eviction process to win your case and not have to pay penalties for trying to get your tenant out of the rental property.
Eviction in Texas
Before you can start eviction proceedings in Texas, you must first give your tenant proper notice in writing. This document is called a “notice to vacate” and states that you would like the tenant to move out because they have broken the lease agreement. Keep in mind; Texas law is very specific about how the notice must be given to the tenant and what it must contain.
The notice must include:
- The amount of time the renter has to move out or fix a specific problem before an eviction suit is filed. This must be at least 3 days unless the lease specifically states otherwise.
The notice must be given to the tenant in one of the following ways:
- In-person to the tenant or someone in the household who is over the age of 16
- In-person by affixing the notice to the inside of the main entry door
- By regular mail, certified mail, or registered mail, with return receipt
- If the rental house does not have a mailbox and if there are things that would prevent you (the landlord) from attaching a notice to the inside of the main entrance (such as dangerous animals or keyless security systems), they may affix it to the outside of the main entrance once it has been sealed in an envelope with appropriate markings and mail it on the same day.
If the notice is given in person or sent via the mail, the time given to move out before you file an eviction suit starts running once it is delivered. If it is attached to the outside of the main entrance, the time starts running once the notice is affixed to the outside of the door, regardless of when the copy in the mail is delivered.
It’s crucial to follow these rules so that your eviction will hold up in court. It’s very common for tenants to win an eviction because the landlord failed to follow all the rules when terminating the tenancy.
So, let’s take a look at this a little bit more. To evict a tenant in Texas, a landlord must first legally terminate the tenancy before initiating the eviction process. To do that, the landlord must give the tenant a written three-day notice to vacate (unless the lease agreement provides for a shorter or longer notice period.), as required by state law. The landlord doesn’t have to give the renter the option to fix the violation or pay the rent. If the tenant doesn’t move out at the end of the three days the notice was received, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit (also called a forcible entry and detainer suit).
Remember, the state of Texas has rules regarding how your tenant can be evicted. In Texas, the only legal way to remove a tenant from a rental unit is for a landlord to win an eviction lawsuit ( detainer suit and forcible entry) in court. Even after winning the case, it is illegal for a landlord to take self-help measures to remove the tenant. The only person who can do that is an officer of the law that is authorized by the judge who allowed the eviction to occur. Texas law has made it illegal for the landlord to remove the tenant from the rental unit personally.
Things To Do Before Filing Eviction
The first thing you need to do is figure out if you have cause to evict your tenant. Some of the grounds for termination are justified, especially if your tenant hasn’t paid their rent or are violating their rental agreement. When your tenant uses your rental property for illegal activity or damages your property, those are all grounds to pursue eviction. But there are other circumstances that don’t involve causes to evict your tenant.
Evictions With and Without Cause
Most of the time, when you think of eviction, you assume it’s to remove a tenant that hasn’t paid rent or is destroying property, but there are other circumstances that require you to file an eviction that doesn’t have cause to evict.
In situations where your lease agreement is about to end, most times, when you notify your tenant that you don’t plan to renew their lease, they make arrangements to move out. Still, it’s important to give them a notice of termination without cause; that way, if the situation turns south, you can be able to proceed with eviction in Texas.
If your tenant is in a month-to-month lease agreement or a fixed-term agreement, the rules for terminating the rental agreement vary.
When you are in a month-to-month agreement with a tenant and wish to end the lease, you must give proper notice. The amount of adequate notice coincides with their rental payments; if the tenant pays once a month, the agreement will end on the later of either the day given in the notice or one month after the day on which the notice is given.
If the renter pays more frequently than once a month, the agreement ends on the later of the day given in the notice or the day following the number of days equal to how often they pay rent. For example, if your tenant pays rent every 20 days, the landlord must give 20 days’ notice that starts the day after the notice is received.
Basically, this notice must state the day by which the tenancy will end and that the renter must move out of the rental unit by that specified date and time.
However, in a fixed-term tenancy without cause, a landlord cannot end a fixed-term lease early. In a fixed-term lease agreement, the lease guarantees tenants the right to stay in the property for the time stated as long as they don’t violate its terms. If you wish to have your tenants move out without having cause, you must wait until the lease term ends. So if you are thinking about evicting your tenant to sell the property, you will need to wait until their lease ends.
You do not have to give the tenant notice if you won’t be renewing the lease unless the rental agreement specifically requires you to. For example, suppose your tenant has a year-long rental agreement that expires in June, and the tenant has not requested to renew. In which case, you don’t need to give the renter notice to move out of the rental property by the end of June, that is, unless such notification is required in the lease. When June comes around, you can expect the renter to move out of the rental property by the end of the month.
It’s when tenants don’t move out that things can get frustrating. But when your tenants don’t move out at the end of the lease, they become holdover tenants, which are tenants who don’t have lease protection. To remove a holdover renter in Texas, you (the landlord) must give the tenant a three-day notice to vacate the property. If the renter does not move out by the end of the three days, you can file an eviction lawsuit with the Justice Court.
Ultimately if there is a way to avoid eviction, that would be helpful. Dealing with an eviction can take weeks, even months, be costly, and stressful.
To help avoid eviction:
- Create conditions in which your landlord-tenant relationship is healthy, honest, open, and most importantly, mutual.
- Just remember that landlords are bound by their obligations just as much as tenants are. Although you own the property, you cannot take the law into your own hands.
- Look for ways that would benefit both you, the landlord, and the tenant.
Of course, there are situations where evicting your tenant is the only option, but evictions should be looked at as a last resort.
Talk To Tenants
Keeping the lines of communication open with your tenant is always a good idea when renting out a property. When faced with possible eviction, try to talk to your tenant and see if they can fix the situation. Although it is good to address any issues you’re having with your tenant verbally, you should still put these things in writing. Say if they missed a rental payment and you allow a one-time late payment, you need to have evidence of that. A verbal agreement doesn’t usually hold up in court so having a paper trail is always a good idea. Usually, your tenant will try to work with you to avoid going to court and having an eviction on their rental records.
The Eviction Process
The eviction process usually involves these 5 steps.
- Step 1: Notice to Vacate. You, the landlord, must give your tenant at least 3 days to move out before you can file an eviction suit, which could be shorter or longer according to the lease agreement.
- Step 2: Filing the Eviction Suit. The eviction court hearing can’t take place for at least 10 days after the petition is filed.
- Step 3: Judgment. Once a judgment has been issued, no further action can occur for 5 days to allow the parties to appeal.
- Step 4 (Possible): Appeal. If the tenant files an appeal with the court, the hearing cannot occur for at least 8 days.
- Step 5: Writ of Possession. Once there is a final judgment, you (the landlord) can ask the judge for a writ of possession. The constable must post a 24-hour notice before “executing the writ” and removes the property from the rental.
Starting eviction proceedings does not mean that you can immediately remove your tenant from the home. Before you can obtain a “writ of possession,” when a constable removes your tenant’s property from the rental, there are many possible steps in the process that take a certain amount of time.
Notice To Vacate
Remember, step 1- notice to vacate is extremely important and must be done correctly for you to be able to evict your tenant. Make sure to follow all the rules regarding Texas evictions in delivering the notice to vacate, what information needs to be documented in the notice, and to give your tenant at least 3 days to move out before filing an eviction suit.
File Eviction Suit
Once you have followed all the guidelines in step one and delivered the notice to vacate, give your tenant at least 3 days to move out before filing an eviction suit. The eviction suit will be filed in Justice Court. When you file the eviction suit, it becomes a permanent court record and will likely become part of your tenant’s history, making it harder for them to rent in the future. The eviction hearing can’t t take place for at least 10 days after the petition is filed.
Other Things to Remember About Evictions
As mentioned earlier, evictions can be time-consuming, expensive, and stressful. Just remember to follow the eviction process in Texas and always seek legal advice regarding evictions, the legal grounds for you to evict, and to look over your rental agreement.
Usually, when landlords are dealing with problem tenants and the eviction process, selling the property starts to look like an attractive option. Although the extra monthly income is nice, dealing with these issues can get old, which is why Texas landlords consider selling instead. If you’re considering selling your rental property, just remember that buyers won’t take on your problem tenant in most situations and will want to purchase the home in good condition.
→ Thinking about selling your rental property? Check out this helpful guide!
The good news is that there is a Texas home buyer, Four 19 Properties, that purchases properties in as-is condition and with problem tenants. So before you even start the eviction process, you can sell your rental house to them with no repairs and with your current tenants- saving you the time, money, and hassle. Selling to Four 19 Properties can be an ideal situation for you to avoid filing an eviction and dealing with your problem tenants.
Going through the eviction process can be challenging and slow; instead of dealing with the hassle, selling your rental property may be a better solution for you. Since you can sell your rental property with tenants in it, you can just pass those landlord headaches to someone like Four 19 Properties.
Four 19 Properties is familiar with rental houses and problem tenants or tenants in general. They are a great buyer to take on this type of situation you find yourself in. If you’d like more information regarding their home buying process or about their company, visit their website for more details.
Four 19 Properties is an as-is home buyer in the Fort Worth, Texas, area and is a BBB accredited business with an A+ rating. They purchase houses with unique selling situations like foreclosure, bankruptcy, problem tenants, code violations, fire damage, termite damage, water damage, foundation damage, and so much more. Four 19 Properties can make you a no-obligation cash offer for your rental property within 24-hours and close in as little as 7-14 days. If you’re interested in hearing more about this awesome selling opportunity, give them a call today.
The material and information in this article is for general information purposes only. You should not rely upon the material or information within this article as a basis for making any business, legal or financial decisions. Be advised to seek the advice of a Texas landlord and tenant attorney regarding your landlord rights and your lease agreement.