Understanding the Eviction Process

September 9, 2016 | by Michael Wilt

Categories: Rental Housing

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.

A landlord must follow a series of steps if she or he decides to evict a tenant. These steps are summarized below based on detailied information from Texas Tenant Advisor and TexasLawHelp.org.

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.

Texas Tenant Advisor


Nolo.com - Eviction Notices for Nonpayment of Rent

Links to Eviction Prevention Assistance in Texas from December 11, 2015 On the House entry entitled, "The Benefits of Preventing Eviction"

**Please note that the purpose of this blog is to be informative. TSAHC cannot provide advice about specific circumstances or situations. If you have a question or concern, please contact your local tenants council or legal aid service.

On the House blog posts are meant to provide general information on various housing-related issues, research and programs. We are not liable for any errors or inaccuracies in the information provided by blog sources. Furthermore, this blog is not legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.


Laura Ross

Hi Tina, TSAHC cannot provide advice about specific circumstances or situations.  We recommend that you contact your local tenants council or legal aid services for help with your question about eviction.

Tina Oliver

I have lived on my mother’s property off and on for 38 years and last Jan she evicted me well I ended up moving back on the property May of last year I have all my belongings back there and been staying on and off there and my boy friends my address on my license is there I still get mail there. Since I moved back on the property does she have to file another eviction?

Laura Ross

Hi Joshua, We recommend you contact your local tenants council or legal aid services for help with this matter.

Joshua Kennon

My aunt is having me evicted from my grandmothers house. I am an heir im the will. I have not been notified of a reading or probate of the will. Im broke and need help badly.

Laura Ross

Hi Angela, your local tenants council or legal aid services can help answer this question. We recommend contacting them.

ANGELA Chapman

If I was evicted in the state of Texas from a low income housing unit apartment,  will that affect me from getting into a low income housing in another state

Laura Ross

Hi Kat, We recommend you contact your local tenants council or legal aid services with your questions.

Kat lat

I am going to file petition against landlord for retaliation, violation of lease, privacy, harassment etc but am curious should I file immediatly after I already sent her appropriate letters? If I go ahead and move will this void my case?

Katie Claflin

Hi Pamela, We recommend you contact your local tenants council or legal aid service for assistance.

Pamela Adams

I just received a notice to vacate even though I have a receipt for payment of rent until the end of the month the landlord says I still owe money . Also I have been existing in this house for four months during a complete kitchen tear down and had no kitchen or sink to wash dishes the workers using my electric and water and leaving doors open while heat is on I need time to move

Laura Ross

Hi Sunni, We recommend you contact your local tenants council or legal aid service for assistance.

Laura Ross

Hi Tammy, TSAHC cannot provide advice about specific situations.  We recommend you contact your local tenants council.

Sunni Black

I live in a shed in my moms backyard she got upset cause of my guest and told me to leave..by texas law do i have to leave.Im also disabled

Tammy Petty

My daughter let her girlfriends son stay with them.  He does not pay any towards the household. Does she have to go through the eviction process?

Laura Ross

Hi Pamela, We recommend you contact your local tenants council or legal aid service for assistance.

Pamela F Bailey

I got my notice to vacate from the sherriff do I have to leave by the date at midnight or is there another process

Laura Ross

Hi Joyce, Texas Tenant Advisor provides further guidance about your rights when it comes to maintenance and repairs (http://texastenant.org/repairs.html) and the termination of your lease (http://texastenant.org/termination.html). If you feel your rights have been violated, we suggest you contact your local tenant council or legal aid services.

Laura Ross

Hi Judy, You will need to contact the precinct and county where you were evicted about the rules for filing an appeal.

Joyce Guerra

Im disabled i have a little girl who has asthma ive gotten a recent visit from landlord about more than three disturbance that wasnt caused by me but my guest my neighbors complained but she told me that i needed to start lookin for a place and that she was not guna fix anything repairs ive complain about repairs for three years and nothing has been repaired what are my options on wat i can due to not be on the streets.please help me

Judy Esquivel

Hi, I’ve been living in a studio attached to my mothers house with a separate entry and I do not have access to the main part of the house. The studio was built for me by my parents when I got divorced, I paid for for most of the materias but my parents país for the labor. I have lived there for 7 years and my fiancé moved in with me a year and half ago. I didn’t have a lease or rental agreement. But I did pay for utilities, water, electricity and trash. My mom never asked me for money,  it my fiancé would give her as much as he could monthly, again no contact or lease, or receipt to prove that we have her anything and all the bills are in my dad’s name. Now my mom and are going through a divorce. She brings her new boyfriend to live at the house and we start having issues. My mom evicts my fiancé and I. I did not go to the eviction hearing because I didn’t want to peruse fight with her, I thought it was petty that she had done this and Could have gone about it differently. She won by default because I didn’t go to the hearing. Now I have a eviction on my record. I didn’t even think about this because I’ve never rented before, that house was my childhood home, that’s were I grew and even after being married to my first husband I never had to rent, I’ve always been a home owner until recently. I didn’t read up on the laws and rules. I am trying to find a place to live since I’ve been displaced but cannot find a decent place because of the eviction by mother on my fiancé’s and my record. We’ve been living in a hotel and we have to kids. It’s been two weeks since the eviction. Can I still file for a an appeal? It’s been more than 5 days.

Leave a Comment