Evicting a tenant in Texas requires a landlord to provide written notice to the tenant that they have breached the lease agreement or are late paying rent. The landlord then has to wait for the tenant to cure the breach or move out within the notice period. If they do not, the landlord can file a Petition for Eviction from Residential Premises with the local Justice of the Peace Court to initiate eviction proceedings. If the court rules in favor of the landlord, but the tenant doesn’t vacate the premises, the landlord can request a writ of possession from the court to forcibly remove the tenant from the property.
Laws – Title 4, Chapter 24 (Forcible Entry and Detainer), Title 8, Landlord and Tenant
How to Evict
- Step 1 – Send Eviction Notice to Tenant
- Step 2 – Wait for Tenant Response
- Step 3 – File in Court
- Step 4 – Serve the Tenant
- Step 5 – Appear in Court
- Step 6 – File for Writ of Possession
- Step 7 – Repossess the Property
Step 1 – Send Eviction Notice to Tenant
A landlord first has to provide formal notice to a tenant of their intent to evict. The notice must state the allegations of the breach committed by the tenant. The landlord can serve the notice in person directly to the tenant or anyone else that lives at the residence and is sixteen years of age or older. They can also post the notice to the main entry door or send it by regular, registered, or certified mail with a return receipt.1 If the notice is posted on the door, it also has to be mailed.2 The notice period begins on the day the notice is delivered.3
- Non-Payment of Rent (3-Day Notice to Quit): This notifies the tenant that the landlord will file for eviction if they do not pay all past-due rent within three (3) days.4 The landlord can also charge a late fee if it was pre-established in the lease agreement.5
- Non-Compliance (3-Day Notice to Quit): This notifies the tenant that they have breached a term of the lease agreement, and the landlord will file for eviction if they do not rectify the breach within three (3) days.6
- Month-to-Month Tenancy (30-Day Notice): Either party can use this notice to notify the other that they don’t intend to continue the tenancy after thirty (30) days.7
- Foreclosure of Rental Property (30-Day Notice): Tenants must be served a thirty (30) day notice if the rental property is being foreclosed and the tenancy will not be renewed under new ownership (if any).6
Step 2 – Wait for Tenant Response
The landlord waits the number of days on the notice to allow the tenant to respond, cure the breach, or pay overdue rent. It’s usually preferable and more cost-effective to come to a compromise outside of court. If the landlord has exhausted all options and the tenant remains out of compliance, it is recommended that the landlord proceeds to court.
Step 3 – File in Court
- Average Processing Time: Three (3) Days to Two (2) Months8
- Filing Fee: $25 plus any applicable county-specific fees9
- Where to File: In person at the Local Justice of the Peace Court or online at eFile Texas
If the tenant fails to respond to the notice, the landlord can file for eviction with the Justice of the Peace Court local to the property in question. They must file the following documents along with a copy of the original notice:
- Petition for Eviction from Residential Premises: This serves as the formal complaint requesting a court order for eviction.
- Military Status Affidavit: This form must be included with the petition if the tenant is on active military duty. It also has to be notarized before filing.
- Case Information Sheet: This form provides statistical information to the court and must also be notarized.
Step 4 – Serve the Tenant
A sheriff or constable will serve both parties with a hearing date ten (10) to twenty-one (21) days from the filing date. The tenant must be served at least six (6) days before the hearing.8 The tenant has the option to file a Defendant’s Original Answer in advance of the hearing to claim whether or not they agree with the allegations made against them.
Step 5 – Appear in Court
Both the landlord and tenant appear in court on the hearing date. It is important to bring copies of all documents that have been filed with the court to the hearing, including a copy of the original eviction notice.
Tenants can win in court based on several common tenant defenses. In Texas, tenants may claim that the landlord is out of compliance with any of the following responsibilities:
- If a landlord does not provide a written warning that rent is late before producing the initial Notice to Quit, the tenant may win the case.10
- A landlord can’t shut off electric, gas, utilities, water, or wastewater services without legitimate cause and notification to the tenant.11
- A landlord can’t change the locks without reasonable cause and notification.12
- A landlord can’t attempt to evict a tenant in retaliation for summoning police or emergency services to the rental unit for any matter.13
- A landlord can’t discriminate against a tenant based on color, disability, familial status, national origin, race, religion, or sex.14
Step 6 – Request a Writ of Possession
If the tenant doesn’t vacate the premises after an unfavorable judgment, the landlord can request a writ of possession from the court.15 The writ allows law enforcement to remove the tenant from the property.16
Step 7 – Repossess the Property
The landlord can use the Writ of Possession to utilize the court-appointed officer to remove the tenant and their possessions from the property forcibly.16
Video: Evictions in Texas
- § 24.005(f)
- § 24.005(f-1)
- § 24.005(g)
- § 24.005(i)
- § 92.019
- § 24.005(a)
- § 91.001
- § 92.008
- § 92.0081
- § 92.015
- Title 15, Chapter 301, Subchapter B
- § 24.0061
- § 24.0061(d)