Understanding the Eviction Process
September 9, 2016 | by Michael Wilt
In his best-selling book Evicted released earlier this year, author and sociologist Matthew Desmond recounts the distressing stories of tenants struggling to pay rent and dealing with the consequences. Desmond notes that nationally, nearly one in eight low-income families was unable to pay all of its rent.
An eviction can have damaging effects on the well-being of a renter ranging from potential job loss to depression and poor health outcomes for mothers and their children. In this entry, we take a look at the eviction process in hopes that tenants will understand it and avoid it.
In Texas, the most common reason a landlord may evict a tenant is if rent is not paid in full when it's due. Damage to property and violating terms and conditions of the lease are also grounds for a legal eviction.
A landlord may not evict a tenant as retaliation for requesting mandatory repairs or if it's a form of discrimination that would violate Fair Housing laws.
1. First, a landlord gives a tenant a Notice to Vacate either in person or by mail at the tenant's unit (there may be additional requirements depending on the type of rental property it is). This three-day notice signals a landlord's intent to evict. During this period, a tenant may attempt to reach an agreement with the landlord to correct violations of the lease and remain in the unit.
2. If no agreement is reached, the landlord must then file a Forcible Entry and Detainer lawsuit against the tenant in the Justice of the Peace Court. Once filed, the sheriff or constable will serve the tenant with court papers that tell the tenant when the court hearing is to consider the merits of the eviction.
3. A court hearing will occur between six and 10 days after a tenant receives the court papers. In most cases, a judge will make a ruling on the eviction, but a tenant may request a trial by jury. Either way, if the court rules against the tenant, the tenant has five days to appeal the decision or move out.
4. If a tenant remains in the unit after five days, a sheriff or constable will issue a Writ of Possession that allows the tenant's belongings to be forcibly removed from the property.
For more information on the eviction process and services to help Texans avoid evictions, please visit the below resources.
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