Attention property owners of investment properties in Texas! Understanding the eviction process is crucial for ensuring the smooth management of your rentals. One question that commonly arises is: “How long does it take to evict a tenant in Texas?”
This guide will provide clear insights into the legal procedures governing evictions in Texas, including the necessary timelines. By familiarizing yourself with the eviction process, you will be better equipped to protect your investments and make informed decisions as a landlord. Let’s explore the details of tenant eviction in Texas so you can take next steps with confidence.
What are the Valid Legal Reasons You Can Evict a Tenant in Texas?
As a landlord in Texas, being well-versed in the valid legal reasons for evicting a tenant is essential. Understanding these reasons will help you navigate the eviction process effectively and stay within the bounds of the law.
In Texas, valid legal grounds for eviction include the following:
- Non-payment of rent
- Violation of lease agreement terms
- Causing property damage
- Engaging in illegal activities on the premises
- Breaching health and safety codes
- Remaining on the property after the lease expires
- Failure to vacate after receiving proper eviction notice to vacate
Familiarizing yourself with these valid legal reasons for eviction will enable you to take appropriate action when necessary and maintain a well-managed and compliant rental.
Eviction Process for Rental Property
You may use a management company to handle your eviction issues as a rental property owner. However, your legal name is on the documents, so it’s crucial to ensure your manager handles the process properly under Texas Law.
Eviction Notice to Vacate
Before filing an eviction lawsuit, you must provide the renter with a tenant notice of the pending eviction process. A written Notice to Quit or vacate the premises is a necessary first step. Draft a written Eviction Notice to Vacate that includes essential details such as the tenant’s name, property address, reason for eviction, and a specific date by which the tenant must vacate the premises.
A proper notice to vacate is always a written notice, never a phone call, text, or casual email.
The proper notice period can vary depending on the reason for eviction, such as non-payment of rent or lease violations. It typically ranges from three to 30 days.
Serve the Notice
The notice must be personally delivered to the tenant or someone over the age of 16 at the rental property. If the tenant cannot be found, the notice can be posted on the property’s front door and sent via certified mail.
After serving the notice, you must provide the tenant with a specific number of days to vacate the property before eviction proceedings can begin. The length of this waiting period depends on the reason for eviction.
For example, for non-payment of rent, the tenant is typically given three days to vacate, while for lease violations, the notice period is generally 30 days. Make sure to comply with the appropriate waiting period based on the circumstances.
Commence Eviction Proceedings
Suppose the tenant fails to vacate within the specified timeframe. In that case, you can initiate eviction proceedings by filing a “Forcible Entry and Detainer” (FED) lawsuit in the Harris County Justice Court.
Consult with a real estate attorney to ensure you complete the necessary paperwork correctly.
Serving the Summons
The tenant receives legal notice, known as a summons, along with a copy of the eviction lawsuit. This documentation informs the tenant about the court date. It also allows them time to respond to the allegations made against them.
During the court hearing, both you and the tenant have the chance to present your respective cases before a judge. The judge carefully considers the evidence and arguments presented before making a decision. If the judge rules in your favor, they issue a judgment granting possession of the property to the landlord.
Execution of the Writ of Possession
Once the judgment favors the landlord, they can request a writ of possession from the court. This writ grants the landlord the authority to regain physical possession of the property. It allows a law enforcement officer, such as a constable or sheriff, to remove the tenant and their belongings from the premises physically.
The law enforcement officer will serve the tenant with a notice specifying a designated date and time for the eviction. On the scheduled day, the officer supervises the removal of the tenant from the property.
Alternatively, the tenant can voluntarily vacate the property before the scheduled eviction date, avoiding law enforcement involvement.
It’s crucial to note that specific timelines and procedures may vary depending on the county court caseload, tenant defenses, and eviction circumstances.
Generally, the eviction process can take several weeks to months from the time you file suit until obtaining a final judgment. Then the sheriff’s office will follow up with the physical removal of the tenant if necessary.
Consult with an attorney or seek legal guidance throughout the eviction process to ensure compliance with all legal requirements and expedite the proceedings within the boundaries of the law.
You’ll also need to stay aware of how tenants may mount a defense against your eviction lawsuit. Next, we’ll look at the potential remedies tenants may explore during the eviction process.
Prepare for Eviction Remedies Tenants May Pursue
When preparing for the eviction process as a landlord in Texas, stay aware of the potential remedies tenants may pursue. Proceeding with eviction in a legally compliant manner can help you avoid some of these tenant defenses. Anticipate possible challenges and discuss with your attorney for your best results.
In Texas, tenants may assert defenses and counterclaims such as the following:
Improper notice refers to a situation where a landlord fails to provide the legally required notice to a tenant when initiating an eviction process. In Texas, specific guidelines exist regarding eviction notices’ content, delivery method, and timing. If a landlord does not adhere to these requirements, a court may deem the notice improper, potentially leading to complications or even dismissal of the eviction case.
Breach of the Warranty of Habitability
The warranty of habitability is an implied guarantee that a landlord provides a safe and livable environment for tenants. Suppose a landlord fails to maintain the rental property in a habitable condition, such as by neglecting necessary repairs or disregarding health and safety standards. In that case, it can constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability. In such cases, tenants may have legal grounds to withhold rent, make repairs themselves and deduct the cost from the rent, or even terminate the lease agreement.
Retaliatory eviction occurs when a landlord seeks to evict a tenant in response to the tenant exercising their legal rights or reporting a violation of their rights. In Texas, it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant for actions such as filing a complaint with a relevant authority, joining a tenant’s union, or exercising legal rights related to health and safety concerns. If a tenant can establish that an eviction is retaliatory, it may provide grounds for defense against eviction.
Discriminatory practices involve treating tenants unfairly or unequally based on protected characteristics such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability. In the context of eviction, it refers to landlords evicting tenants based on these protected characteristics rather than legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons. Federal and state laws, such as the Fair Housing Act, prohibit discrimination in housing. Tenants who believe they face eviction due to discrimination can pursue legal remedies to address these rights violations.
These remedies can delay the eviction process and may require resolution through legal proceedings. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain thorough documentation, follow proper procedures, and seek legal advice to mitigate risks and appropriately handle tenant remedies.
By staying proactive and well-informed, you can navigate the eviction process effectively and safeguard your rights as a landlord in Texas.
Our Experienced Real Estate and Eviction Attorneys Can Help
At Jarrett Law Firm, we understand the complexities and challenges that landlords face when dealing with real estate and eviction matters. Our team of experienced real estate and eviction attorneys is here to provide you with the expert legal guidance and support you need.
Whether you seek assistance drafting eviction notices, navigating tenant remedies, representing your interests in court hearings, or ensuring compliance with Texas eviction laws, we are dedicated to protecting your rights as a landlord and achieving favorable outcomes.
We help you navigate the intricacies of real estate and eviction law. Contact Jarrett Law Firm today, and let us provide you with the comprehensive legal solutions your property investments deserve.