It is possible to evict a tenant in Texas, but there are certain county and state regulations that must be followed in order to do it properly. If you are a San Antonio landlord, it’s important to know how to properly evict tenants so you do it legally without leaving any loopholes. You will want to become familiar with the legal process before you start. Since it is a legal proceeding, if it is not done properly the tenant could be compensated if they incur any costs due to an unlawful eviction. It is the landlord’s responsibility to be aware of the laws regarding evictions and to know the proper procedure including notification requirements. Renters also need to be aware of the laws in order to protect or defend themselves from being unjustly evicted.
Requirements for Evictions in Texas
There are certain criteria that must be followed for legal evictions according to Texas state law. First of all, a tenant who is behind in their rent payments as stipulated in the lease agreement or rental contract can be evicted. This can be an oral lease or a written lease. Another reason for an eviction is if the tenant or member of their family, household or any invited guests threaten to harm or cause harm to the landlord, other tenants or employees; or if any terms of the lease are violated. If a renter stays past the termination date on a lease that has not been renewed, they can be evicted even if they are not behind on their rent or payments.
Giving a “Notice to Vacate”
Before an eviction can be filed with the court system, the law requires a landlord to give the tenant a notice to vacate the premises. Texas statutes requires the notice be in writing. It can be delivered personally to the tenant to be evicted if the landlord has a witness who comes with them when it is delivered. The notice can be delivered by certified mail which gives a return receipt to the landlord to prove the date the papers were received by the tenant. This helps protect both the tenant and the landlord. Once the notice has been sent, the landlord is required to wait three days before they can file for an eviction in their local Texas Justice of the Peace court unless a shorter or longer time was specified in the lease.
What if the tenant doesn’t vacate by the specified date?
Part of knowing how to evict a tenant is knowing when to file in court. If the renter doesn’t move by the date specified in the “notice to vacate” then the landlord has to file with the appropriate court. The landlord files the eviction complaint in order to begin the eviction proceedings. In the complaint, the landlord has to explain in detail why the tenant is subject to eviction and must describe the rental property thoroughly. During the process landlords can request overdue rent, legal expenses, and court costs they incur due to the eviction. The court will not award the landlord any late fees or interest. Once the landlord files, the court will issue the tenant an eviction citation explaining the court date to them.
How does the eviction process work in Bexar County during the court proceedings?
In court, the judge will rule for the tenant or the landlord. If the ruling is in the landlord’s favor, then the tenant has only five days in which to vacate the dwelling. This is also the amount of time the tenant has to file an appeal if they disagree with the decision of the court. After five days, if the tenant has not vacated and they did not file for an appeal, the landlord has the option of filing a “writ of possession” with the court. This is an order given by the judge which directs the constable’s office to give the landlord possession of the property. The constable’s office can send representatives to remove the tenant and their personal property from the premises.
Are there any regulations for landlords who are evicting a tenant?
The above described steps explain how to properly evict tenants and there are no other ways to legally remove a tenant. It is illegal for a landlord to force a tenant out of their leased property through any other means. If the landlord tries to do it without following the laws, it is an illegal eviction. There are some things a landlord should never do including:
- Do not change any locks
- Do not shut off the utilities or permit a utility provider to shut them off
- Do not remove any of the tenant’s personal property
- Do not threaten, force or manipulate the tenant to leave
What happens if the landlord violates any of these rules?
It is important for a landlord to know how to evict a tenant legally and property. If they do not know how to evict people from a house legally, they should not attempt it. If a landlord tries to enter the actual property they have leased out to a tenant, they are committing a crime. When anyone enters the property without obtaining consent from the tenant, who is the person who actually has legal possession of the property, it is considered a “forcible entry.” The landlord can be charged with this illegal activity.
Can Anyone besides the landlord take eviction action against a tenant?
Yes, the landlord, an agent they appoint, or an attorney who is representing them can represent the landlord in court. There is no law in Texas that states the landlord has to hire an attorney to represent them during the process, but most recommend that an experienced lawyer be hired to help assist in the eviction process. This will help prevent any illegal or unethical actions that could complicate the eviction process. As long as the legal steps are followed, evicting a tenant who is in violation of a lease agreement should go smoothly.