Texas is one of the most profitable real estate markets in the US. With its booming economy, active tourism industry, and strong job market, many people are moving to Texas to take advantage of these various opportunities. In addition, Texas has favorable tax laws, which is great for property owners who plan to invest in Texas real estate.

To be a successful real estate investor, it’s crucial to choose your tenants wisely. A thorough tenant screening process should be in place so that you’ll avoid a problematic tenant and a possible eviction. A landlord is recommended to perform all the necessary financial and background checks before accepting a tenant to prevent potential legal issues in the future.

However, no matter how careful you are in choosing a tenant, there are times when problems arise during the tenancy. Sometimes, these issues cannot be resolved amicably and the only best solution left is eviction. As a landlord, you are mandated to follow the legal eviction process if you plan to remove a tenant from your rentalf. 

The eviction process in Texas can take around one to three months, depending on the reason for eviction. This process can take longer if a tenant requests a continuance or jury trial. In this article, we will discuss the justified and unjustified reasons for eviction, and what you should do to ensure that you remain in compliance with the eviction law.

Two people entering their new rental and taking the keys from their landlord who is standing in the doorway

Written Notice for Lease Termination with Legal Cause

A Texas landlord should have a valid reason for evicting a tenant. To legally evict a renter, you must have a legal cause for doing so, such as any of the following:

  • The tenant failed to pay rent for the rental unit.
  • The tenant remains on the property after the end of the lease or without an active lease or rental agreement.
  • Tenant violates any provision in the lease or rental agreement.

In Texas, rent is considered late if payment is not received the day immediately after the due date. An eviction can also occur if a tenant does not pay their rent on time. A landlord must provide a tenant with three days’ written notice to pay the rent or vacate the property. 

If the tenant does not pay the rent or leaves the rental unit after three days, the landlord can begin the eviction process. It’s important to note that Texas law requires a landlord to provide a two-day grace period, which means a landlord cannot impose penalties or late fees until rent is late by two days. 

In addition, a landlord can also evict a tenant for staying at the property without a lease or after the previous lease expires. Landlords must first terminate the tenancy by giving proper notice:

  • Three days’ notice for verbal lease.
  • Seven days’ notice for week-to-week lease.
  • One-month notice for a month-to-month lease.

If the tenant remains at the property after the notice period ends, the landlord should start the eviction process immediately.

Person dangling a key over someone else who is signing a document

Landlords in Texas can also remove tenants for violating the rental lease agreement and/or failing to perform their duties and responsibilities as stipulated in the lease or by Texas landlord-tenant law. A landlord must provide tenants with a three-day notice to vacate. Texas landlords are not required to give renters a chance to fix the issue. 

Under Texas eviction laws, violations that can be grounds for eviction include:

  • Unauthorized pets.
  • Illegal activity.
  • Failing to keep the premises clean and sanitary.
  • Failing to inform the landlord of any defects or maintenance issues.
  • Refusing to make small repairs or complete maintenance under the lease agreement.
  • Disturbing other tenants or neighbors.

Landlords must have a valid reason to evict a renter. Evicting a tenant without a valid lease violation could be considered a discriminatory or retaliatory act, which is prohibited under the Texas Fair Housing Act.

Serving a Tenant with an Eviction Notice in Texas

Texas landlords are required to serve tenants with a written eviction notice. The notice to vacate must be delivered by any of the following methods:

  • In-person delivery—notice must be received by the tenant or someone aged 16 years or older.
  • Leaving the notice inside the main door of the rental unit.
  • Regular, registered, or certified mail with a return receipt.

Tenant Eviction Defenses in Texas

The defense is a reason why the petitioner (the landlord) shouldn’t win the eviction lawsuit. The following are considered illegal evictions in Texas:

  • The landlord attempted to forcibly remove a tenant by changing locks, shutting off essential utilities, breaking a door or window, and/or removing a tenant’s belongings.
  • The eviction is retaliatory.

Living room full of brown moving boxes

Attending a Court Hearing in Texas

According to Texas law, a tenant is given 14 days (after receiving the complaint) to file a written answer with the court, but this is not mandatory. The eviction hearing will take place within 10 to 21 days after the eviction is filed with the court.

Either party may request to postpone the trial for not more than seven days. If the tenant fails to appear at the hearing, a court will rule in favor of the landlord by default.

If the tenant disagrees with the petition, both parties may choose to settle the dispute outside of court. If the tenant and landlord come to a mutual agreement, the landlord can file a nonsuit to dismiss the eviction lawsuit. If there is no agreement between both parties, the hearing will continue.

Writ of Possession

The Writ of Possession is the final notice to vacate the property, allowing tenants to remove their belongings before the sheriff returns to take possession of the dwelling unit. The filing fee for a Writ of Possession ranges from $130 to $175. The Writ of Possession shall be issued around six days after the court rules in favor of the landlord.

The Eviction

After the Writ of Possession is issued and posted on the premises, the tenant is given 24 hours to vacate the rental property. After the notice to vacate period ends, they will be forcibly removed by the sheriff or constable. It’s important to note that the sheriff or constable may choose to return 36 hours or even a few days later to forcibly remove the evicted tenants.

Black gavel on a desk

Conclusion

Dealing with problematic tenants can cause a lot of stress and headaches. It’s crucial to know the Texas eviction laws for eviction so that everything will run smoothly in case you’re faced with this unfortunate situation. If you don’t want to handle this process yourself, it’s best to work with a professional rental property manager. Contact Keyrenter Austin today to speak with one of our property managers!

Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.