Houston landlords are bound by state law and the city's fair housing practices when evicting tenants. Like many states, Texas requires that landlords begin the eviction process by issuing a letter to the tenants asking them to leave the property. In many cases, the tenant leaves voluntarily. Of course, the Justice of the Peace court and the sheriff's office will become involved if the tenant refuses to vacate the premises. All the landlord must do is file the correct paperwork and wait for a court judgment against the tenant.
Acceptable Reasons to Evict in Houston
Landlords in Houston can evict tenants who are late paying any portion of the rent or utilities they have agreed to pay. Tenants can also be evicted if there are unauthorized people living in the dwelling or if the tenant is in violation of an important part of the lease.
Issuing a Notice to Vacate
Before court proceedings can begin, a landlord must issue a formal letter demanding that the tenant move out of the rental property. This letter should specify the landlord's grounds for asking the tenant to move, the date the landlord expects the tenant to leave, and the amount of rent the tenant owes, if applicable. Unless the lease specifies otherwise, the landlord must give the tenant at least three days to leave.
The landlord should either mail the letter (a certified or registered letter can be useful as proof of receipt in a court dispute), deliver it to someone over the age of 16 who is living at the property, attach it to the inside of the door, or attach it to the outside of the door if there is no mailbox and the landlord cannot enter the property.
Proceeding with an Eviction
Tenants are not legally required to leave after a Notice to Vacate. If the tenant does not leave, the landlord can then file an Eviction Citation with the Houston Justice of the Peace court. Once the citation is filed, the court clerk will send a constable to deliver the Eviction Citation to the tenant.
After the tenant receives the citation, he must file a response to the court within seven days if he intends to fight the eviction. The court will set a hearing so a Justice of the Peace can listen to both the landlord and tenant and issue a judgment. If the tenant prefers a jury trial, they must request the trial within five days of receiving the citation and pay a five dollar fee.
If the tenant loses the court hearing, he has five days to move out of the property. Either side can appeal the court's ruling within five days. If the tenant is being evicted for past rent, he must pay one month's rent to the court if he intends to stay at the rental during the court case. Under special circumstances, the tenant could file an affidavit requesting that the rent bond be waived.
Getting a Writ of Possession
Once the tenant has lost the court case or has failed to respond to a citation, the landlord can ask the court to issue a Writ of Possession. This order allows the sheriff or constable to help the landlord take charge of the rental property with their help. A notice must be posted on the door of the rental property to let the tenant know that the eviction will be proceeding, the date the writ was issued, and when the eviction will occur. The tenant must have 24 hour's notice to move out before the formal eviction occurs.
Evicting a tenant can be a frustrating process, but it's important to conduct the proceedings legally to avoid future problems. Removing the tenant's possessions without formal notice is considered an illegal eviction and can make the landlord liable for damages. However, landlords should be able to evict within 30 days if they write a Notice to Vacate and use the Justice of the Peace court to issue any further legal notices.
Please note: These articles are for informational purposes and we advise you to consult an attorney for more specific information related to your situation.
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