The Eviction Process in Texas

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Dallas, Texas, USA downtown skyline from above.
Dallas, Texas, USA downtown skyline from above. Source: Depositphotos

Eviction laws vary somewhat from county to county in Texas, but they all follow the same general process. 


State law requires that a landlord must first give the tenant written notice that their tenancy has ended. If the tenant does not move out of the home by the date specified on the notice, then the landlord may file a lawsuit. This article explains the eviction process in Texas.


Reasons For Eviction


There are five legal reasons for beginning the eviction process in Texas. These reasons should be explained in the lease agreement.


  1. Failure to pay rent. Rent is usually considered late if left unpaid a day past the due date. Some lease agreements stipulate a grace period.


The landlord must give the tenant an official Notice to Vacate when rent is unpaid. This notice is also called a Three-Day Notice to Pay or Quit notice. If the tenant pays the rent within those three days, the eviction process ends. 


Texas landlords are not obligated to offer tenants a second chance, but they may do so if they wish. If no second chance is given and the rent is still unpaid after the three days, the landlord can proceed with the eviction process.


Landlords can charge a late fee, but this provision must be noted in the lease agreement.


  1. Violation of the lease agreement. If a tenant violates any of the terms of the rental agreement, the landlord can issue a Three-Day Notice to Cure Violations or Move Out notice. The eviction process ends if the tenant resolves the issues in question before the three days are up. 


Lease agreement violations include:


  • Property damage
  • Loud activities that disturb neighbors
  • Smoking in non-smoking areas
  • Keeping pets where pets are not allowed
  • Remaining on the property after the lease ends


If the tenant does not resolve the violations, the landlord may proceed with the eviction.


  1. Illegal behavior. If a tenant has engaged in unlawful activity within the property, the landlord can issue a Three-Day Notice to Vacate. The landlord should contact the police about proof of this activity, including the following:


  • involvement with illegal drugs
  • sublet of the property without landlord approval
  • acts of violence, assault, or theft


  1. Foreclosure. If the property has been foreclosed, the landlord must issue a 30-Day Notice to Vacate.

Landlords can proceed with the eviction process if a tenant does not move out after the 30 days.


  1. Nonrenewal of the lease. If a tenant remains on the property after their lease agreement ends and the lease has not been renewed, the landlord can issue a 30-Day Notice to Vacate. Landlords are not required by law to remind their tenants to renew their lease unless it is stated that they must do so in the lease agreement.


Steps For Eviction


After sending the Notice to Vacate and waiting the appropriate length of time for the tenant to comply, the landlord may continue the eviction process under Texas law.


The next step is to file a suit to evict in the justice court where the property is located. A hearing is then set for no sooner than 10 days and no later than 21 days after the suit is filed. 


Then a law enforcement officer will serve the tenant with papers at least six days before the trial. If the tenant does not answer the papers, they must show up at the hearing or risk a default judgment in favor of the landlord. 


Reasons a Tenant Might Fight an Eviction


A tenant might fight an eviction for several reasons, including the following:

  • the landlord did not properly serve the notice to vacate
  • the landlord did not wait the required time before filing the eviction 
  • the landlord failed to maintain habitable premises
  • the landlord demonstrated unlawful discrimination.


Removal of a Tenant


If a landlord wins an eviction lawsuit and the tenant does not move out, they may not take steps to remove the tenant from the property on their own. Under Texas law, an officer of the law, authorized by the judge who ruled in favor of the eviction, is the only individual who can remove the tenant.

The reasons that the procedures for evictions in Texas must be followed are to ensure that all evictions are justified and that tenants have adequate time to find a new place to live. Some assistance may be available to Texans facing eviction through the Eviction Diversion Program.

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