Tell Me What’s Going On In Texas Regarding Evictions. Are There Any Changes During COVID 19?
I am handling evictions depending on where the location is. The biggest issue is the federal Cares Act and then local county or city laws. There are moratoriums in some counties where we can’t even give a notice to vacate to tenants. In other counties, there is no prohibition as long as the property does not have a federally-backed mortgage.
Does A Landlord In Texas Need Just Cause To Evict A Tenant And What Would Just Cause Be?
A landlord needs to have a cause to evict. If there is a written lease and you breach anything in it, there is no right to remedy or fix or a period of time to cure. I had a case where I was representing a tenant and her friend brought a dog over. The dog never touched the ground. It was in the friend’s hands and they were there for 10 minutes. The landlord got a picture of it and the tenant was evicted.
How Much Notice Is A Tenant Entitled To When It Comes To Eviction?
The notice period is, by law, three days, unless the lease says otherwise. You can do as little as one day. Many online documents give 30 days or 60 days, which then means that if the tenant doesn’t pay, they have up to two months before you can even start to file with the court.
How Do I Prove In Court That A Tenant Received An Eviction Notice, If They Claim They Haven’t?
You do not have to prove that the tenant actually saw or received a notice; you just have to prove that you sent it. You can mail it via certified mail and also mail it via regular mail at the same time. We use the certified mail as tracking for the regular mail because it is presumed that two items sent at the same time to the same place are going to get delivered at the same time. You can also send a server to go out and hand-deliver a notice to anyone who looks like they are over the age of 16 who answers the door. Making sure that the tenant gets a letter with a law firm’s letterhead on the top has a better chance of them actually wanting to pay.
If I Have Served Eviction Notices And The Tenant Refuses To Vacate The Premises, What Can I Do?
You may file with the court once the period specified in the lease is up and then a trial will happen 10 to 21 days after the filing. In COVID-19 times, it could take however long the court wants it to take, and then they have a week after that for an appeal. If they don’t appeal, then you can ask for a writ of possession, which is an order from the court ordering the constable to remove the tenant from the property. That normally takes a week to 10 days to actually happen. It is up to the landlord to make sure to have all the personal property inside put out to the curb and change the locks.
Is There Anything Else Under The Law That Is Important From The Landlord Side?
The number one key to having a happy tenancy is vetting the tenant beforehand. We offer that service. You want to get an application, have the tenant fill it out, and then get every single bit of information validated. Check phone numbers, email addresses, and previous or current rentals. Call their place of employment to make sure that they work there. I urge landlords to take a double deposit. I know tenants balk at that but in reality, if that tenant stops paying, it will take a month to evict them. If that process uses up the deposit and there are also damages, you will be paying for the damages out of pocket.
Is There Anything Else Under The Law That Is Important From The Tenant Side?
For tenants, if there is something that needs to be addressed then you need to give notice by certified mail, give them a week to fix it, and then file with the court. You can do that without an attorney, if necessary. The downside is that if you are completely wrong and they get an attorney, you may get a judgment against you for attorney fees. There are a lot of obscure laws such as every door must have a deadbolt that cannot be unlocked from the outside. That is one that we have used to help tenants get out of a bad situation. Window latches, sliding door security, smoke detectors, and all those types of things are really important.
The number one rule for tenants is don’t sign a lease without seeing the unit or having someone you trust see the unit. If an apartment complex is telling you that this is their model but they can’t show you the actual unit you will be in, don’t sign that lease until you can see the unit. Once you get inside, look around thoroughly. Look underneath the sink; are there rat droppings? You need to look at absolutely everything before you agree to sign a lease and move into a unit.
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