Residential evictions are statutorily driven in Texas. They are governed by Chapter 24 of the Texas Property Code, as well as, Rule 510 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.
To begin the eviction process, a landlord must provide a notice to vacate. State law requires three days’ notice unless a written lease provides a different notice provision. The notice must be delivered by mail or personal delivery, although it can also be affixed to the inside of the main entry door, or, on some occasions, on the exterior of the main entry door.
Following the expiration of the time prescribed in the notice to vacate, the landlord must file an eviction suit with the justice court in the precinct in which the residence is located. The lawsuit should name the tenants “and all occupants,” provide the address of the residence, the grounds for eviction, a description of how and when the notice to vacate was delivered, the total amount of unpaid rent, if any, and a statement as to whether attorneys’ fees are being sought.
Usually upon filing of the lawsuit, a landlord should elect for the constable to execute service upon the tenant. The trial will be held no sooner than six days from the date of service of the lawsuit.
At trial, the only thing being decided is whether to grant landlord possession of the premises and the amount of any unpaid rent, if any. The trial is not an opportunity for tenant to tell the judge about all the things that landlord has done wrong, except as it may relate to the purpose of the eviction. Further, the hearing may only be postponed by more than seven days upon a writing signed by both the landlord and tenant.
If landlord is awarded possession at the eviction trial, the tenant usually has five days to decide whether to appeal the judgment. However, a landlord does have the right to file a possession bond before the eviction trial, which would allow the landlord to obtain a writ of possession immediately following the judgment. Other than the filing of the possession bond, landlord cannot obtain a writ of possession until the day following the expiration of tenant’s appeal period.
If tenant does not elect to appeal the judgment, then the landlord may obtain the writ of possession on the sixth day following the eviction judgment. The constable will receive the writ and place it into his queue with all the other writs to execute. The number of writs in the queue will be determinate of how long tenant has until the constable comes to the door.
The constable will coordinate with the landlord as to the date and time that he will come to the premises to insure a peaceable removal of the tenant and tenant’s possessions. The landlord should be ready with movers and a storage unit in which to place tenant’s belongings if any are left inside the premises.
If tenant elects to appeal the judgment, then tenant will be required to either (i) place a bond, (ii) make a cash deposit in lieu of bond, or (iii) execute a statement of inability to afford payment of court costs. The amount of the cash deposit will usually be the amount of the judgment. In addition, tenant will be required to pay rent into the registry of the court during the appeal process.
The appeal will be heard in county or district court usually within thirty days of the initial eviction judgment. The case will be heard as if the justice court decision never existed. If eviction is then awarded, the clerk may issue a writ of possession. Of course, the tenant again has a chance to appeal the judgment of the county court by obtaining a supersedeas bond.
If Tenant fails to make rent payments in accordance with the statutes at anytime during any appeal, then landlord can start measures to obtain possession of the premises regardless of the pendency of the appeal.
As earlier stated, Texas evictions are very statutory in nature. Further, they provide adequate due process for the protection of both the tenant and the landlord.
Robert Newton is an attorney based in Frisco, Texas, that practices estate planning, real estate law, business law, and corporate law. This post is meant for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.