Do your tenants refuse to pay their rent? Are they destroying your property? Are they selling drugs out of your property? Having trouble paying your mortgage because of them?
Or maybe you're a tenant and your landlord is trying to use the courts to bully you. Did you try to pay your rent but your landlord wouldn't take it? Will your landlord say anything to try to have you evicted because of a personal grudge?
Evictions in Texas are governed by unique laws and procedures that are designed to allow an expedited process for determining who has a superior right to possession of real property. While many lawsuits end up going to trial two or more years after they are filed, trials in eviction cases are set just 10-21 days after the date of filing.
To compensate for the quick process, very specific requirements must be strictly followed. In most cases, a landlord or other property owner must start by properly serving a tenant or other occupant with a formal "notice to vacate." The law is very specific as to what must and can't be on the notice to vacate, and particularly as to how the notice to vacate must be delivered. In some cases, a separate "notice to cure" may be required before a notice to vacate can be served.
After the notice to vacate is served, the owner must wait a certain number of days - typically 3, but this varies based on a variety of circumstances. The owner must then complete an eviction petition and file it with the local Justice of the Peace (JP) court. There are very specific requirements as to what exactly must be included in this petition. A constable or deputy constable must then serve the occupants with the petition and citations directing them to appear at trial.
At trial, the landlord or property owner must prove: 1) ownership or some other right to be granted possession of the property; 2) that the occupant breached his or her lease or does not have the right to occupy the property; 3) that proper notice to vacate was provided and the occupant failed to vacate in the time specified; and 4) if required, that proper notice to cure was provided and the occupant failed to cure in the time specified. If the tenant or occupant does not file a written answer or appear for trial, a proper military status affidavit must be on file for the owner to secure a judgment.
If a judgment is entered awarding possession of the property to the landlord or property owner, the tenant will then have 5 days, or longer, if the 5th day falls on a weekend, holiday, or day the court closes before 5 PM, to move out or appeal. If the occupant fails to move out or appeal, the landlord will have to go back to the Justice of the Peace to secure a writ of possession, an order directing a constable or deputy constable to remove the occupant from the premises.
Both sides have the right to appeal an unfavorable judgment. If either party appeals, the case will be transferred to a county court at law (or a constitutional county court in smaller counties) for a trial de novo - meaning the case essentially starts over. Unlike in JP court, in this court, the Texas Rules of Evidence apply, as do significantly more complex rules of procedure. The process at this level also typically takes much more time; trials are often scheduled one to two months after an appeal is filed.
If you're a landlord who needs your tenants out, you don't want to miss out on a judgment because of a technicality. While the eviction process in Texas is designed to be quick, it certainly isn't so quick if you lose and have to start over. You need an experienced Texas landlord/tenant attorney on your side.
Likewise, if your landlord is trying to evict you, he or she may not have legitimate grounds to do so, or there may be a number of substantive or procedural defects that could enable you to avoid a judgment. A judgment could wreak havoc on your ability to rent or purchase a home in the future, and on your credit score. This is why you, too, need an experienced Texas landlord/tenant attorney.
Not all eviction cases involve a tenant renting an apartment or house. Sometimes they involve foreclosures, squatters, alleged adverse possession, contracts for deed (more commonly known as "rent-to-own" contracts), breakups of live-in relationships, family disputes, nightmare roommate situations, and other situations. All of these can greatly increase the complexity of an eviction suit and affect the rights of those involved, making
having an experienced eviction attorney on your side that much more important, whichever side that may be.
Johndroe Law, PLLC offers comprehensive eviction and eviction defense services, including:
Serving tenants and other occupants with notices to vacate
Filing eviction lawsuits in Justice of the Peace (JP) courts and representing property owners in these suits
Representing tenants and other occupants in eviction lawsuits filed against them in JP courts
Representing both landlords/owners and tenants/occupants in de novo appeals in eviction cases to county courts at law (or constitutional county courts in smaller counties)
Assisting prevailing landlords/owners with obtaining writs of possession and coordinating move-outs
These services are provided for reasonable fees. For more information on rates and payments, please click here. To start, schedule a consultation today by clicking here. Or if you are a landlord who just needs a notice to vacate, we can typically arrange that outside of a standard consultation. Call 817-752-4111 or email today.