Evicting tenants is often time-consuming and can result in the breakdown of a tenant-landlord relationship. It involves reviewing state laws, including the Texas squatter’s laws in case you have to evict a squatter, and ensuring that both parties are acting in accordance with them.
This article will explain the proper procedure of eviction under Texas law, including lease violations , unpaid rent, and how a landlord files for the eviction of a tenant.
Eviction in Texas
An eviction takes place when a landlord regains control of their property from a tenant who had been given permission to occupy the property.
When an eviction occurs, the tenant’s term of occupation as has ended, or the tenant has forfeited their right to remain on the premises. In some cases, an eviction could also take place in the act of removing squatters from the property.
The Need for an Eviction
As a landlord, it’s imperative to face the eviction head-on and carry it out fully. You don’t want to suffer any more losses in your rental business.
You also want to send a message to your other tenants that you will enforce the rental agreement if need be.
Length of Time for Tenant Eviction in Texas
A landlord must begin by providing their tenant with a 3-Day Notice to vacate. If the eviction is with a tenant who rents month-to-month, without due cause, the landlord must provide a 30-Day written notice. After the length of time that the notices are up, the landlord can begin the process of eviction, but you must always give the tenant notice.
The next step for a landlord to take is filing a forcible detainer suit with the Texas Justice Court. When it’s known a landlord filed a report, it will enter into the system. Depending on whether the tenant will counter the lawsuit or not, this will impact the length of the eviction process.
Reasons for Eviction
Under the Texas eviction laws, there are specific reasons that a landlord can file an eviction. Among them are:
- The tenant’s failure at paying rent. Though, note that if this is the case and the tenant pays rent, you can no longer evict them.
- Violating the terms/conditions of the lease agreement
- Conducting illegal activities in/on your rental unit
- Threatening or displaying unsafe behavior towards anyone
Eviction for Failure to Pay Rent
In Texas, a landlord must provide a written 3-day notice to vacate to a tenant who’s failed or is unable to pay their rent.
If after 3 days, the tenant still fails to pay the outstanding amount, the landlord can go to Justice Court and file the Forcible Entry and Detainer Suit.
Eviction of a Tenant for a Lease Violation
In Texas, a landlord can provide a written 3-day notice to vacate to a tenant who violated the rental agreement and file an eviction suit. This refers to breaking the local or federal rules and policies outlined and signed upon by both parties in the lease agreement.
The following are common violations of lease agreements:
- Late in rental payment or unable to pay
- Tenant smoked in non-smoking areas
- The tenant brought a pet when the leasing agreement indicated a No-Pet Policy
- Exceeding the maximum number of people allowed to reside in the rental property
- Tenant’s illegal subletting
- The tenant intentionally damaged the rental unit
When a tenant has performed any of the aforementioned lease violations, you are well within your rights to proceed with the eviction process.
Evicting a Tenant for Illegal Behavior
Under Texas law, a landlord can provide a written 3-day notice to vacate to a tenant who engages in illegal behavior in or on the property. Illegal activities can constitute the following:
- Abusing drugs, selling drugs, manufacturing, or growing illegal drugs
- Tenant engages in fraudulent activities
- Tenant sublets without the landlord’s permission
- The tenant commits violence and assault
As a landlord, it’s essential that you pay close attention to your tenants to avoid letting suspicious behavior go unnoticed.
Contact the police if there is clear proof of illegal activities taking place. Then you can move towards evicting the renter for illegal behavior.
Texas Tenant Rights
In Texas, tenants have legal grounds to fight an eviction suit. The following are the common grounds under Texas Property Code:
- The landlord serves an erroneous notice to vacate. For example, the landlord failed to include the date and time the tenant must vacate the unit.
- The landlord resorted to “self-help” procedures. This includes locking the tenant out, throwing a tenant’s property and possessions outside the property, or shutting off utilities.
- The rental property was uninhabitable and unsafe.
- The landlord is retaliating against the tenant for exercising their legal rights.
- Illegal discrimination on the basis of a tenant’s race, religion, gender, familial status, disability, or national origin. This is covered under the Texas Fair Housing Act
Removal of the Tenant
In Texas, a renter can be removed from the landlord’s property when a landlord wins the forcible entry and detainer suit as part of the eviction hearing. Landlords must refrain from personally removing the tenant after winning the eviction lawsuit.
Only an officer of the law has the legal authority to remove the tenant after a judge has decided the eviction suit in favor of the landlord.
When a Tenant Can’t Be Evicted in Texas
Under Texas law, landlords cannot seek to evict a renter for requesting repairs. If a tenant files a complaint and exercised their rights, it’s illegal for a landlord to perform an eviction.
For tenants that have a month-to-month lease or month-to-month tenancy, it’s best just to not renew their lease, rather than pursuing the eviction lawsuit with the Justice Court, and all the legal forms that come with it.
To reiterate, landlords also cannot evict tenants based on race, religion, gender, disability, and the other protected classes under the Fair Housing Act.
The Bottom Line
If you find that you have difficulties starting an eviction suit or at any point during an eviction in Texas, it’s best to consult a lawyer. Property managers are also knowledgeable about these things.
You can also get in touch with a property manager, like Bigham & Associates. A company like such is highly skilled and well-versed in handling the eviction process.
Disclaimer: This article is not meant to substitute legal advice. For specific assistance regarding eviction suits, please contact a legal professional or professional property management company.