No matter where you live, thinking about needing to evict a tenant can cause a lot of stress. In some states, it is all-but-impossible to evict a tenant without repeat offenses because the state’s landlord-tenant laws heavily favor the tenant.
Texas eviction laws, on the other hand, are more on the landlord’s side. When you have a genuine and reasonable problem with a tenant, you can and should make moves to evict them from your property.
Still, evicting a tenant in Texas requires forethought, careful organization, and time. Without much experience handling the eviction process, you could easily make a mistake that would jeopardize your chances of confirming the eviction.
Today’s guide will introduce eviction, Texas’s specific process and laws, and other tips that will help you take back control of your property!
A Table of Contents For the Eviction Process in Texas
- What is Eviction?
- Texas Eviction Laws: Legal Reasons to Evict
- Evicting a Tenant in Texas
- Texas Eviction Process Timeline Estimates
Eviction is a legal process that allows a landlord to take back primary control of their property from a tenant, squatter, or another resident of the property that no longer has a right to be on the property.
It is important to understand a few more things about eviction before we introduce Texas’s laws.
Eviction is a legally regulated process that can only be done for specific reasons. Even if your lease says that you can evict someone at any time for any reason, that clause would be unlikely to stand up to an eviction court.
Now that we know more about what eviction is, let’s learn more about why you might send out an eviction notice in Texas.
Like all states, Texas has its own set of eviction laws. When browsing Chapter 24 of the Texas Property Code, the legal case for eviction is known as a forcible entry and detainer suit. While this phrase can be applied to other situations as well, the tenant who refuses to vacate your property could be said to be committing forcible detainer.
While it is important to know how to process an eviction, it is arguably more important that landlords know what the legal reasons for eviction are in Texas.
Legal Reasons to Evict a Tenant in Texas
Below is a collection of some of the most frequent reasons that landlords move to evict their tenants.
1. Lease Agreement
For this reason to apply, you will absolutely need to have a written and valid lease agreement with your tenant. It is important to always have this document – even if it not required by state laws. Without it, proving any eviction case will be difficult.
When properly written, your lease should outline exactly when and why you may move to evict a tenant. If the tenant has broken any serious clauses that they agreed to in the lease agreement, you will be able to check if that offense can logically lead to an eviction in your lease.
The most common types of lease violations that are cause for eviction are as follows:
- Nonpayment of rent
- Unauthorized tenants
- Subletting without permission
- Unauthorized pets
- Illegal activity on the property
- Serious, intentional damage to the property
If you have proof that your tenant has broken the lease in any of the areas listed above, you can move forward with the eviction process as outlined further down in this guide.
If your lease does not address what will happen in any of these circumstances, you may still have a case if the tenant’s behavior goes against the Texas landlord-tenant laws. Be sure to take the time to improve your lease in the future to avoid being in this kind of a bind.
2. Health and Safety Violations
Just as you have a responsibility to maintain the property in a liveable condition when it comes to plumbing, heating, and other property factors, the tenant also has a responsibility to keep things clean. If the tenant has let things get so messy that it is a health violation, you can move to evict them.
There are safety and health violation cases where the tenant themselves is not to blame for the issue. If something like uncontrollable mold or gas leaks are affecting the property, you cannot resolve this while they are living in the property.
3. Getting Off of the Rental Market
There may come a time when you decide that you would like to sell one of your rental properties. Alternatively, you might want to move into it yourself! Are there serious repairs that have been deferred for long enough?
All of these reasons would be valid reasons to move forward with the eviction process.
4. Threats & Rule-breaking
If a tenant is making threats towards you, neighbors, and/or tenants that live with them, you have a right to file for eviction. This kind of behavior is unsafe and puts both the tenants and your property at risk.
Additionally, tenants that are knowingly and willingly breaking HOA rules at your property every week can be evicted. These violations will ultimately be your responsibility to deal with, but you do not have to continue to allow the tenant to cause problems for you and your property.
5. False Information
Discovering that a tenant lied about something significant on their rental application is a valid reason for eviction. If you find that the lease was signed in this type of situation, eviction is allowed.
Invalid Eviction Reasons in Texas
There are some invalid eviction reasons that we see landlords in Texas try to use again and again. While all of these circumstances are frustrating at times, they are not good enough reasons to try to evict someone from your property in and of themselves.
- You cannot evict someone for filing a complaint about you.
- You cannot evict someone for requesting legitimate repairs unless the same issue happens for over six months.
- You cannot evict someone for exercising any of their legal rights.
- You cannot discriminate against anyone or evict someone because of their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability.
- You cannot evict someone because you do not like them.
- You cannot evict a service member who misses up to three months of rent due to their military service.
If your reason for wanting to evict your tenant in Texas falls on the valid list of reasons for eviction, you can move forward with the eviction process. Even if your reason at this time is invalid, keep reading! Learning how to properly evict a tenant is an invaluable experience.
Once you have determined that you have a valid reason for evicting a tenant, you can move forward with the eviction process.
Step 1: Notice to Vacate
The first step in the eviction process in Texas is to give the tenant a written eviction notice. This notice should detail the following:
- Why they are being evicted
- When they should move out by
- What part of the lease they broke (if applicable)
- How they can remedy the situation (if applicable)
This written notice must be delivered in one of the following ways:
- Attached to the inside of the main entry door
- Attach to the outside of the main entry door AND mailed from the same county
- Given to the tenant personally
- Sent by certified mail
We recommend sending by certified mail and posting the notice on the door to be sure that the tenant receives the notice in a timely manner.
Depending on what the violation at hand is, tenants will have varying amounts of time to move out or respond to the allegations. For nonpayment of rent, one of the most common eviction reasons, landlords must give tenants a three-day notice to vacate the property.
In other cases, such as when you are selling the property, you may be required to give up to 30-days notice to vacate the property.
An eviction notice in Texas lets the tenant know that if they do not leave or respond within the given time frame, you will be moving on to step 2: Filing for an eviction.
Step 2: Filing for Eviction
If the tenant’s time is up and they still have not left the property, it is time to file for eviction. You will need to do this at the local precinct. Usually, you must pay a small fee when filing to cover court fees.
Have the following information ready as you will need it for the related paperwork:
- Name and contact information for tenant, landlord, and attorney
- Address of rental property
- Description of rental property
- Why you are filing for eviction
- Copy of the lease
- Date that the tenant moved in
- When and how the notice to vacate was delivered
- How much money the tenant owes (if under $10,000 and applicable)
- Tenant’s military status (if applicable)
Once you file this paperwork, it will be reviewed for completion and legality. If everything checks out, the constable will serve the tenant with a citation and court summons for the eviction hearing.
Step 3: Court
To complete the eviction process and find out if you will win the case, you must go to court. Even though you filed all the paperwork correctly, that does not mean that you are guaranteed to win your case.
Thus, it is incredibly important that you bring all relevant documents and evidence of tenant wrongdoing with you to court. You will be permitted to present these during the hearing to show your perspective on the case. The tenant does not have to prove anything. It is you, the landlord, that must prove the tenant needs to go.
Here are the main items that you can bring to help support your cause, if applicable:
- Copy of the deed
- Copy of the lease
- All rent receipts, ledges, and related bank statements
- Received complaints (from HOA, neighbors, etc.)
- Pictures and videos
- Transcripts or copies of tenant-landlord communication
At court, there are four potential outcomes:
- If the tenant does not show up, you automatically win. The tenant will have five days to vacate the premise or appeal the ruling.
- If the court rules in your favor, the tenant will have five days to vacate the premise. Alternatively, they can appeal the ruling. The ruling decision will also include information on what the tenant owes you, which could potentially include court costs, rent, and damages.
- If the court rules against you, you have five days to appeal the ruling. Try to find better evidence of your cause before re-applying for an eviction suit.
- In some rare cases, the court may rule that you need to try to work it out. This means that while you did not win, you will have a sure-shot eviction case if the tenant does not adhere to the judge’s ruling decision.
Step 4: Writ of Possession
Congratulations! You won your eviction suit in court. What do you do now?
First, you have to wait five days. During these five days, the tenant will either move out or file for an appeal.
If the tenant does not move out or file an appeal during this period, you can file what is known as a Writ of Possession. This court order allows a constable to take back control of the property and give it to you. This will cost you an additional lump sum of money, but it will give you control back of the property swiftly.
When the constable goes to the property, they will give the tenant 24 hours to move out. If they do not move out, the constable will arrest them and then remove their belongings from your property.
Your lease should include a clause that states who will be responsible for the cost of property removal in scenarios like this. Most standard leases allow the landlord to sell the property to cover the cost of removal.
If you do not have this clause in your lease, you may be legally responsible for storing the tenant’s belongings for a certain amount of time without the ability to sell any of it to cover the costs. Consult with a lawyer if you are in this situation because the exact nuances of your situation will be needed to decide what to do.
Finally, let’s answer the two questions that are probably still nagging at you:
- How long does it take to evict someone in Texas?
- How much does it generally cost to evict someone in Texas?
First, let’s address the timeline. On average, the eviction process takes about three weeks. The exact amount of time that your case can take, however, could differ depending on the number of appeals and how long it takes the tenant to move out of the property.
Now, let’s address the cost breakdown. We’ll start by saying that evicting a tenant isn’t cheap, but it’s a much more cost-effective solution than the alternative! These estimates should help you get an idea of how much your eviction case will cost:
- Filing in court: averages $100 per tenant
- Filing for writ of possession: averages $150
- Legal fees, if not covered by the tenant: depends on the lawyer
- Moving and storage expenses: depends on the amount of property left behind
All in all, you can expect to spend $250 on the eviction process as a bare minimum. In reality, you’re likely to spend much more than that.
While it is possible to take the tenant to small claims court as they are responsible for covering all of these costs, the likelihood of being able to actually get money from the tenant is very small. For that reason, we recommend filing for eviction, regaining control of your property, and moving on.
The next time that you rent the property, be extra careful to screen your tenants thoroughly. With time, you’ll be able to stabilize your bottom line even after taking on the cost of an eviction!
Evicting a tenant in Texas is not fun. In fact, evicting a tenant anywhere is not fun!
Regardless, eviction is an important process for landlords to understand. There are a lot of complicated steps to this process, and you need to be able to do them all correctly in order to win your case.
Remember, these steps will help you succeed in your eviction case:
- Be sure you have a valid eviction reason.
- Send a notice to vacate.
- File for an eviction case.
- Show up in court.
- File for a writ of possession.
- Regain control of your property!
With time, patience, and a small monetary investment, you can end the hassles that you have been having with your troublesome tenant. Don’t wait any longer to fix this issue; begin the eviction process ASAP!