When a tenant is not following the terms and conditions of their lease or rental agreement, it may be time for an eviction. Sometimes, though, tenants are wrongfully targeted for evictions. In either case, both landlords and tenants have rights and responsibilities in Texas in terms of their property and the eviction. Making sure each complies with the rules and following the procedures accordingly is important to secure justice in any given situation. A mistake can cause delays and other problems contrary to your interests.
Basic Eviction Process in Texas
The exact process for eviction varies from state to state, but there are some steps that are common in almost all jurisdictions.
- Proper Notice: A tenant must be given proper notice that they must leave the premises by a certain date. State laws may require that this notice be posted on the property, mailed to a certain address, or served on the tenant.
- File and Serve Notice: Generally, the landlord will next need to file a complaint in the proper court and have the tenant served with a notice of hearing regarding their occupancy of the property.
- Hearing Held: A hearing is held before a judge. If the judge agrees that the eviction should move forward, a date is set for the tenant to vacate the property.
- Tenant Removed: If the tenant still does not leave, the landlord may enlist the help of local law enforcement to have the tenant evicted from the property.
Again, the exact process varies by jurisdiction. It is in your best interest if you live in Texas to contact us at f so that you can get your specific questions and concerns answered and have your rights and obligations described to you. We can also represent you during the hearing and advocate your rights before the judge.
Possible Reasons a Landlord Can Evict in Texas
Every state has rules that establish reasons why a landlord can legally evict a tenant. These reasons may include:
- Failure to pay rent in full when due
- Failure to comply with the terms of the lease agreement
- Committing an illegal act
- Violation of the no-pets rule
Again, to know the exact reasons allowed in Texas, it is best to contact our evictions attorney who handles evictions and other landlord-tenant matters.
Tenant Rights during an Eviction
Each state affords tenants certain rights during the eviction process. While these rights vary by jurisdiction, one of the most common rights is the right to defend against eviction. Every state has defenses to eviction available to tenants, and when a tenant feels that their rights have been violated, they have the ability to raise one of these defenses. Defenses include improper notice and acceptance of rental money. When a tenant raises a defense, they have the right to remain in the property until a judge makes a finding on the eviction and their right to stay in the property.
When a tenant rents property, there is typically a contract that is signed. Tenants should read this contract to understand any rights they might have under its terms. Also, tenants have the right to seek counsel from an attorney.
Landlord Obligations during an Eviction in Texas
Landlords have certain rules they must abide by during the eviction process. While the specific rules vary by jurisdiction, landlords typically cannot:
- Evict a tenant without cause
- Evict a tenant as a form of retaliation
- Enter the property and remove items belonging to the tenant
- Block the tenants' access to the property
- Evict a tenant without proper notice of the eviction
Landlords often become upset when they have a tenant who is not paying. Even so, they must follow the legally mandated protocol for eviction.
Defenses to Eviction in Texas
Defenses to eviction vary by state. However, there are some defenses that are more commonly utilized than others, like failure to maintain the premises, acceptance of rent monies, blocked access to the home, improper notice, and retaliatory eviction.
Failure to Maintain Premises
Landlords have an obligation to maintain the premises being rented. Sometimes, they fail to follow through, causing the tenant to take matters into their own hands. For example, if a tenant can show that they notified the landlord (in writing) of a problem with the property, and the landlord failed to respond within a reasonable time forcing them to hire someone to repair the property instead, they may have a defense to an eviction. In states that allow this, the amount of repairs is generally deducted from the amount of rent.
Acceptance of Rent Monies
In most areas, when a landlord accepts rent money from a tenant, they cannot proceed with eviction during that rental period. The amount of money accepted by the landlord does not have to be the full amount of the rent that is owed.
Blocked Access to Home
Some landlords become frustrated with a tenant and block their access to the rental property. When they do this before the eviction process is complete, most states will stop the eviction. Examples of blocked access include changing the door looks and turning off the utilities.
Improper notice is a common defense in most states. Eviction is a process that has specific rules and established time frames. When landlords refuse to adhere to these specific laws, tenants may be able to use that non-compliance as a defense to eviction.
Sometimes landlords become upset when a tenant reports them for code violations or requests that repairs be made to the property and then proceed with an eviction for no other reason than retaliation. When this occurs, the tenant may have a solid defense to the eviction process.