An eviction is not something anyone enjoys. While each step necessary for the eviction process does not take a lot of time in and of itself, it still takes about 30 days to fully evict a tenant. You must be on guard to meet the timelines of each step in order to have the eviction completed in the least amount of time allowed by Texas law. Texas evictions are handled in Justice of the Peace precinct courts where the houses are located.
You cannot evict anyone for any reason without first having sent the Notice to Vacate letter (It is sometimes referred to as the Pay or Quit notice). Our company gives 3-day notices to vacate; some companies send 1-day notices. Either way, it is a requirement that you wait 5 full business days before filing an eviction in a JP court if the letter is sent by U. S. mail. If notice was hand-delivered or posted on the inside of the front door of the property, you are required to wait 3 full business days before filing (There are other specific requirements allowed for by law, but we are talking about the typical and usual courses of actions of the eviction process). Though it is not a requirement of law, it is easier to prove your notices were sent, if you will use certified mail as your tool.
After the eviction is filed, you will soon find yourself in court on a date set by the judge. You can represent yourself and/or your owner in a JP court. You do not need an attorney.
Rarely will a tenant show up for a court appearance. By this, you will immediately receive a default judgment. If the tenant does show up, you will always win judgment, if no improprieties have by taken by you against the tenant and your accounting record showing nonpayment of rent is in order.
You can file a writ of possession prior to the court date by posting a monetary bond amount set by the court. In doing this, once you have been awarded judgment the writ is in force and the tenant will have 24 hours from the time of judgment to vacate or appeal the judge’s decision. If you don’t file the writ with bond amount posted in advance, the tenant will be allowed 5 days to vacate or appeal. In the latter instance, on the 6th business day after the judgment, and if there has been no appeal filed by the tenant, you can file a writ of possession. In either method, if the tenant doesn’t file an appeal, the constable will serve the tenant a 24 hour Notice to Vacate.
The final stage of eviction is forcible detainer and an action commonly known in the industry as the “set-out” occurs. In this action, a constable will be present on the property with you, your labor crew, a locksmith and lots of trash bags. The constable presides over removal of the house contents onto the yard, sidewalk or driveway, rekeying the locks, and keeps the peace. After the set-out is over and everyone is gone, the tenant’s property is at risk of being taken by anyone in the neighborhood or passersby.
It is hard to foul up an eviction case. All you need is to have given proper notice, act in legal timeframes, have a copy of the Notice to Vacate with you in court, a copy of the lease, the documented amount of money the tenant owes, and reliable transportation so you don’t miss the court appointment.
Remember, an eviction costs money. From the Beginning to the Sidewalk, the cost is around $700, to include filing fees, labor, locksmith and trash bags. Know that the best protection against an eviction is to well-qualify your applicants before they become your residents. If you are unsure about anything about the process, seek counsel. I will be happy to answer any question that I legally can.
Until next time,