How to evict a Tenant in Texas?
States have different rules regarding the eviction of tenants. For example, in Pennsylvania, the tenant has a window of ten days to clear the rent before the landlord evicts him or her. In Texas, however, the tenant can be evicted on the same day that the rent is due. The following is an explanation of how to evict a tenant in Texas.
The process of eviction in Texas involves 4 steps:
- Issuing a notice to move out
- Filing a petition for a lawsuit against the tenant
- Going to court
- Filing a writ of possession
Step 1: Notice To Vacate
A valid notice is one that is issued according to the Texas law. The following are some of the ways of delivering a notice to vacate:
- Personal Delivery: You may hand the notice to your tenant or any resident of the premises who is above 16 years old. You may affix the notice inside the main entry door or outside the main entry door.
- Mail: You may mail the notice to your tenant through certified mail, registered mail or regular mail.
The standard time for a notice to expire is three days from the time the notice is delivered to the tenant. You must wait for the notice period to expire before filing a lawsuit.
Make Copies of the Notice
You should have 2 copies of the notice to vacate. One copy of the notice is for your records and the other is for the court. It is advisable to note when you delivered the notice and whom it was delivered to.
Step 2: Original Petition
When your notice expires and the tenant is has not vacated your property, the next step is to file a lawsuit referred to as “Forcible Entry and Detainer” lawsuit.
A Forcible Entry and Detainer lawsuit is filed by filing an original petition. An original petition starts the lawsuits and can also be called an original complaint or a complaint for eviction. Many courts have an original complaint form but you are allowed to use your own provided it abides by the Texas law.
Step 3: Going to Court
If your tenant has received a notice to vacate and has been served with an original petition and still refuses to vacate, then you should move to court. When attending an eviction hearing, you should have the following:
- One copy of the notice to vacate
- Tenant lease
- Witnesses to prove something e.g. a lease violation
- Evidence like rent receipts, warning letters and ledgers
If your tenant fails to show up in court, the judge will make a default judgment. A default judgment is one that is given in your favor because the tenant failed to attend the court hearing. If your tenant attends the hearing, the judge will either rule in your favor or in favor of the tenant. If a ruling is made in your favor, you will now be entitled to possession. The tenant will have 5 days to vacate the premises or file an appeal.
Step 4: Writ of Possession
If your tenant does not file an appeal and fails to vacate your premises after 5 days, you next move should be to file a write of possession. The writ of possession instructs the constable to organize for the physical removal of your tenant. The constable is required to post a one day notice to vacate before removing the tenant.