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Eviction FAQs

 
Can you file an eviction if you are not a lawyer?
Yes, Texas property code allows homeowners to have a representative for Justice of the Peace cases for evictions. We do not represent a client if a tenant appeals and it goes to the county court level.At this point, any appeal of the eviction hearing would have to be handled by a legally licensed attorney in the state of Texas.

What kind of evidence do owners need to provide for an eviction hearing?
Owners should provide:

  • Copy of lease
  • Ledger of payment history
  • Receipt Book (if possible)
  • Copy of key
  • Copies of documents or correspondence between owner and tenant

Owners who do not have the appropriate evidence subject themselves to the mercy of the court on whether a judge will side with a tenant. Without the appropriate proof at your eviction hearing, the case will devolve to a “He Said/She Said” affair, and this put the landlord at risk of not winning their eviction case in any Houston or Dallas area eviction hearing.

What is a notice to vacate?
A Notice to Vacate or Pay or Quit Tenancy Notice is given to a tenant that has violated their lease terms, usually for non-payment of rent. The notice informs the tenant that they are in breach of their lease agreement and must rectify the situation within at least 3 days, otherwise vacate the property. The notice will also warn the tenant that a failure to do as the notice request could lead to the owner filing a eviction case.

For non-payment of rent, the Pay or Quit Tenancy notice will include the amount of back rent owed plus any late fees or penalties that must be paid to cure the breach. The notice to vacate must be written and must be delivered by mail, given in person to the tenant, given in person to any person residing in the leased property who is at least 16 years old, or posted on the inside of the main entry door to the leased property.

What does a landlord do after a notice to vacate is delivered and the tenant will not leave?
The landlord must file an eviction lawsuit with the appropriate Justice of the Peace court. Usually, there are two court that you can filing a hearing so you should double check to make sure that you are filing the eviction at the correct court house.

After the eviction lawsuit has been filed in Houston or Dallas, a eviction case hearing will be set and the tenant will be served with a citation informing them of the eviction hearing. At the hearing, the landlord will have the opportunity to present their case against the tenant before a judge. The judge will then decide whether or not to award possession of the property to the landlord based on the case presented.

What is a writ of possession?
After a judgement is won by the landlord in court for the eviction hearing in the Houston or Dallas area , the tenant is given five days to appeal. Once the appeal period has passed to appeal the eviction, and the tenant is still in the property, then a Writ of Possession must be filed at the same Justice of the Peace court. The Writ of Possession is a court order to the constable to place you in possession of the property. This allows the landlord to physically remove a tenant and their possessions with the presence of a constable at the subject property.

What can the landlord do with the tenant’s personal property that was not removed or left behind after the tenant has been evicted?
In this situation, a landlord has three options on what to do with items left behind after a eviction:

  • Obtain a writ of possession and have the tenant’s property moved or stored.
  • Enforce statutory or contractual lien rights to obtain a lien on rent due.
  • Treat the property as abandoned and dispose of it according to Texas law.

How much are the fees associated with the eviction process?
In Dallas County as of 1/1/2011, the filing and service fee for an eviction lawsuit against one individual tenant totals to $121.
In Dallas County as of 1/1/2011, the writ of possession fee is an additional $165.

In Harris County, as of 1/1/2011, the filing and service for an eviction lawsuit against one individual tenant totals $101.
In Harris County as of 1/1/2011, the writ of possession filing fee is $130.

Note: These cost only are for the legal court cost for filing the eviction and or does not include the cost of labor needed at the actual physical eviction to help with removing large possessions and junk, and changing locks. Those are separate cost that the landlord should anticipate if their evicted tenant refuses to move out after the eviction hearing.

How long does it take to evict someone in Texas?
From start to finish, the eviction hearing process could take approximately 3 weeks (assuming the process is served without any delays).

  • 2 to 3 days from the tenant receiving a “Notice to Vacate” or “Quit Tenancy or Pay Notice”
  • After notice has been received by a proscribed method (certified mail, in person, etc); then proceeding to filing an eviction lawsuit (the lease often governs the notice period).
  • 8-10 days to serve the citation- the law requires that the defendant have at least 6 days notice before the eviction hearing.
  • If the tenant is not served, the the court appointed representative will request permission to serve notice by leaving the notice on the tenant’s door.
  • 5 days to appeal the judgement following the hearing before a writ of possession can be filed.
  • 2 days for actual eviction to take place- constable is required by law to post a 24 hour vacate notice on a Writ of Possession before an actual physical eviction can take place.
  • If the constables office is backed up, then there could be delays on the time that it takes the constable to file the Writ of Possession at the physical location.

Is there a way to speed up the eviction process?
A Bond for Immediate Possession can be used to shorten the eviction timetable to 10 days from the court allowing the landlord to put up a bond. However, the bond is not forfeit as long as the landlord wins in court and the eviction hearing will be sped up assuming that the tenant does not request a trial or post a counter bond.

In a Bond for Immediate Possession, you are putting up a bond for surety or cash to request the eviction hearing occur in a more expedited manner. If you lose the landlord loses the eviction case, then the landlord could lose all or part of their bond.