Rent is Due!
Your tenant is late on the rent, again, or they have breached the lease in some other way. You have already told them to pay/fix the breach or get out now! But what happens when they refuse to pay the rent or fix the issue? What happens if they refuse to move out? What can a landlord legally do?
As a landlord, you certainly have the ability to tell a tenant to vacate the premises for breaching the a term in their lease, but, only a Justice Court can evict a tenant.
In order to properly evict a tenant, there are certain actions that you must take in order to prevail. Prior to filing suit, you must give the tenant proper notice to vacate the property; this is typically three days unless you have agreed in writing to more or less time.
If after giving the tenant the pre-suit notice they have not complied with your demand, you can then file suit in your local Justice of the Peace Court for eviction. This is also known as a “forcible detainer.”
The JP Court will have the constable, or some other designated person, serve your tenant with notice of the eviction suit and set the matter for a hearing.
At your hearing, you must present all of your evidence which supports your grounds for eviction, even if the tenant does not appear. If you win, the court will order that your tenant is evicted and can even award you a judgment for unpaid rent.
Writ of Possession
But hold on, we’re not done! Even though the Court may have ordered that the tenant is evicted, your tenant may refuse to vacate the premises and surrender possession of the property to you. If your tenant refuses to leave, then you must apply for a Writ of Possession.
The Writ of Possession is the forceful Order from the Court that will allow the physical removal of the tenant and their belongings from the premises. The application for a Writ of Possession may not be made until at least 6 days after the Order of Eviction.
So you may be you’re thinking, “What if I just lock the tenant out?” While this may seem like a viable and quick solution, use caution! The law does allow landlords to lock out tenants but only under very specific circumstances that we’ll discuss another day.
Sometimes just threatening to evict a tenant could help remedy the problem. However, sometimes it doesn’t and Texas law gives you options. As long as you follow the procedures for eviction, it can be relatively painless compared to dealing with a nightmare tenant.
–Authored by James R. Palomo, Esq.,
Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Civil Litigation Division
1001 Main Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3309
Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479