While the rules for evictions are friendlier to landlords in Dallas than in many other cities, it’s still important to know the proper procedure to protect yourself and your property. Here is a step-by-step guide to how evictions work in Dallas and measures you can take to keep yourself safe from legal challenges throughout the eviction process.
Notice to Vacate
In Dallas, the first step in the eviction process is providing your tenant with a Notice to Vacate. You must list each occupant’s name on this notice that you wish to leave your property, not just the name on the rental agreement. You must also provide the reason why you wish the tenant to vacate your premise.
For non-payment of rent, you are required to give the tenant three days to vacate from your property on a voluntary basis, but it is also permissible to stipulate in a rental agreement that you’ll provide more or less than three days to vacate. You must provide at least 24 hours regardless of what terms you agreed to in the lease.
While non-payment of rent is the most common reason most landlords wish to evict a tenant, there are other legal reasons:
Delivering the Notice to Vacate
There are a number of methods available to you to deliver the Notice to Vacate. You can hand it directly to the person you wish to evict, you may send it certified mail, or you may even post it on the inside of the main entry door.
Moving Forward With Your Eviction
If your tenant fails to move out voluntarily, proceed with an eviction lawsuit at the Justice of the Peace Court. Once you file, a sheriff or constable will serve your tenant with a citation that outlines the lawsuit and hearing date. The hearing must take place between six and ten days after your tenant has been served.
In your lawsuit, you may also claim damages for past rent due and legal fees that the tenant will have to pay if they lose. At court, you may present witnesses and other documentation supporting your basis for eviction. If you have a valid legal reason and supporting evidence for your claim, such as bounced rental checks or police reports, the judge should rule in your favor; however, tenants can appeal your decision and perform other delaying tactics. In this event, the appeal process will move from JP Court to County Court.
Filing for Bond
After you have filed your lawsuit, you may also try to immediately gain control of your leased property by filing a Bond for Possession. You will be able to take control of your property within six days unless your tenant prepares a counter bond requesting that the hearing occurs within this time frame.
Performing the Eviction
If the court rules in your favor and the tenant refuses to leave your property, a sheriff or constable will partake in the forced eviction of your tenant. At no time should you participate in a “self-help” eviction in Dallas, which includes removing property yourself or shutting off utilities for your tenant. This could leave you vulnerable to legal challenges and hurt your eviction case.
You may also explore mediation options with your tenant. For example, you might decide to give your tenant extra days to leave your property if they agree to a certain time frame. The mediation process may save you multiple court appearances and lead to a more amicable settlement.
Ultimately, there are many options available in Dallas for moving forward with your eviction. Use every tool at your disposal and back up your claims with evidence, and you should be able to remove your tenant from your property without significant legal complications.
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