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COVID-19 & Texas Law

This guide is updated to reflect information pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic. Information in this guide is subject to change at any time.

Eviction


See our Rent & Legal Assistance page for sources of financial assistance for renters.

Also see the Eviction section of our Landlord/Tenant Law guide for more information about the eviction process.

Contents

This page contains information on the following. Click the link to jump to each topic:

CDC's Order Halting Evictions Through June 30, 2021

Effective Sept. 4, 2020 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an Order preventing many residential tenants from being evicted for nonpayment of rent. The Order was extended through June 30, 2021 by the CDC.

Overview
Read the Order itself along with FAQs.

Who Does it Protect?
Read the criteria listed in the Order to see who qualifies for protection from eviction.

Forms for Tenants
Get forms to use and learn how tenants can assert their rights under this Order.

What If the Eviction Hearing Has Already Happened?
Tenants may be protected even if they lost their eviction hearing for nonpayment of rent.

Do I Still Owe Rent?
Renters still owe rent during the period of protection under the Order, even if they cannot be evicted for non-payment.

What Happens If a Landlord Violates the Order?
Learn more about defenses against eviction and possible criminal penalties for landlords who defy the Order.

Additional Eviction Information

Landlord Obligations
Texas Supreme Court Emergency Orders have set certain obligations for landlords during the eviction process.

Eviction Diversion Program
Beginning Spring 2021, (or Oct. 12 in pilot counties), landlords and tenants may opt in to this new program aimed at avoiding evictions.

Local Restrictions on Eviction
Some local governments may have additional protections for renters.

CARES Act Protections
The federal CARES Act prohibited evictions at certain properties through July 25th. After that, it required landlords to give 30 days notice before beginning an eviction.

Fight an Eviction
Get help from an attorney who could help stop or appeal an eviction.

CDC Order: Overview

Temporary Nationwide Halt on Residential Evictions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an Agency Order that halts evictions for nonpayment of rent for renters who meet certain criteria. The Order went into effect on September 4, 2020, and will remain in effect until June 30, 2021. It was issued to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 which, the agency argues, could be worsened if many people across the country are evicted and are forced to live in group settings, such as homeless shelters.

According to the Order [PDF]:

A landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or possessory action, shall not evict any covered person from any residential property in any state or U.S. territory in which there are documented cases of COVID-19 that provides a level of public-health protections below the requirements listed in this Order.

Note This Order only applies to evictions for failure to pay rent or late fees. Other types of evictions are not covered by the Order.

The Order does not apply in places where states, tribal governments, territorial governments, or local governments have enacted equal or greater protections for renters. See the text of the Order, linked below, for more details.

FAQs

CDC Order: Who Does It Protect?

According to the Order [PDF], protections apply to all residential renters who swear under penalty of perjury that certain criteria set out in the Order are true for them. This Order only applies to evictions for failure to pay rent or late fees. Other types of evictions are not covered by the Order.

CDC Order: Forms for Tenants

According to the Order [PDF]:

To qualify for the protections of this Order, a tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property must provide a completed and signed copy of a declaration with the elements listed in the definition of “Covered person” to their landlord, owner of the residential property where they live, or other person who has a right to have them evicted or removed from where they live.

Note This Order only applies to evictions for failure to pay rent or late fees. Other types of evictions are not covered by the Order.

The CDC has provided a standardized declaration form [PDF]. Tenants are not obligated to use the CDC form. Several legal aid organizations have also created forms for tenants to use that include the language required by the CDC.

Printable Declaration Forms

These forms can be printed out on paper and signed by the tenant.

Electronic Declaration Forms

These forms can be filled out and signed online by the tenant. After filling out the forms, there is an option to print, save, or e-mail the forms.

Notice to Court

If an eviction suit has been filed, the tenant should notify the court that they have given their landlord a Declaration form.

CDC Order: What if the Eviction Hearing Has Already Happened?

If the Tenant Lost the Eviction Case

It may be possible for a tenant to stop their eviction even after they have lost their initial eviction hearing by providing the landlord with the signed Declaration.

If a Writ of Possession Has Been Issued

The CDC's Order [PDF] does not specify at what point in the eviction process the tenant must give the Declaration to the landlord. If a tenant is ordered by the court to evict but they do not leave and do not appeal, the last step in the eviction process is the issuance of a Writ of Possession by the court. This writ directs a constable to remove the tenant from the rental unit.

According to the Texas Justice Court Training Center:

If a constable executing a writ of possession in a nonpayment of rent eviction discovers that a tenant claims to have delivered a Declaration to the landlord, the constable should notify the landlord of the Declaration and ask for instructions on if the landlord wants the constable to resume execution of the writ. 

CDC Order: Do I Still Owe Rent?

Yes. The CDC Order [PDF] does not provide monetary relief for renters or landlords. The Order "has no effect on the contractual obligations of renters to pay rent".

Additionally, the Order specifically does not prevent landlords from "charging or collecting of fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis, under the terms of any applicable contract." Therefore, on top of the rent, the tenant may also owe additional fees that have accrued. For information on permissible late fees, please see the Rent page of our Landlord/Tenant Guide.

CDC Order: What Happens If a Landlord Violates The Order?

Tenant Defense in Eviction Suit

If a tenant provides their landlord with a signed Declaration under the CDC Order but the landlord proceeds with attempting to evict them, the tenant may be able to argue in court that the eviction should be stopped because the CDC's order prohibits it.

Complaints

If you believe your landlord is in violation of the CDC Order, you can report them to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau online or by calling (855) 411-2372.

Criminal Penalties

Landlords and rental companies who violate the Order [PDF] can face criminal penalties. Penalties are listed below (other penalties provided by law may also apply). The Order lists the U.S. Department of Justice as the agency that could prosecute these crimes.

Landlord Obligations

On Sept. 17, 2020 the Texas Supreme Court issued an Emergency Order directing landlords to take certain actions related to the CDC's halt on residential evictions and the CARES Act. This order expired on Mar. 31, 2021.

Effective Oct. 12, 2020 in certain pilot counties (and expanding to all Texas counties by Feb. 15, 2021), landlords must take certain actions related to the Texas Eviction Diversion Program established by the Supreme Court of Texas.

Petition for Eviction

Landlords must include a statement in their petition for eviction that:

Citation

After filing a petition with the court, the petitioner (the landlord) must arrange for the defendant (the tenant) to be served with the initial paperwork of the suit. This paperwork includes a Citation, which alerts the defendant that a suit has been filed and lists the upcoming trial date (see TRCP Rule 510.4(a)).

When issuing a citation to the tenant, the citation must include:

Landlords may be required to provide these items to the court or the court may provide them. Check with the clerk of the court where the petition is being filed for more information.

General Information

Eviction Diversion Program

Overview

Established by the Texas Supreme Court, the Texas Eviction Diversion Program is a voluntary program that allows eligible landlords and tenants in Texas to agree upon a resolution relating to eviction and non-payment of rent.

When an eviction is filed, a landlord is required to review information about the program and attach an approved statement and brochure to the citation.

At the eviction hearing, the judge must discuss the program. If both the landlord and tenant are interested in the program, the judge is required to follow certain steps as outlined on the program website

Effective October 12, 2020 for cases filed in: Bee, Bexar, Brazos, Chambers, Deaf Smith, El Paso, Erath, Fanin, Grayson, Harris, Jim Wells, Kleberg, Montgomery, Palo Pinto, Parker, Potter, Randall, San Patricio, Wise.

Effective February 1, 2021 for cases filed in: Bell, Cameron, Collin, Dallas, Denton, Fort Bend, Galveston, Hidalgo, Lubbock, Nueces, Tarrant, Taylor, Tom Green, Travis, Victoria, and Webb.

Effective February 15, 2021 for all counties and cities in Texas.

For more information, you can call The Texas Legal Services Center's toll-free hotline at: 855-270-7655.

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs also offers a website about this program. 

Eligibility

For tenants:

  • Household income at or below 200% of poverty
  • Household has been financially affected by COVID-19 pandemic
  • Tenants are INELIGIBLE if they are receiving tenant-based voucher assistance, are in a unit receiving project-based assistance, or are in public housing

For landlords:

  • Assistance for rent no older than April 2020
  • Rent for the household assisted may not exceed the TDHCA maximum limits
  • Must have a bank account and accept direct deposit
  • Units that are already receiving project-based assistance or are public housing units are INELIGIBLE
  • Units that are owned by a unit of government may be ineligible

General Information

Local Restrictions on Eviction

Some local governments and local court systems have given renters additional protections or have postponed all eviction suits for a period of time. Contact your local government to find out what the status of evictions is in your area.

Recently, the ability of local governments to pass ordinances regarding evictions has come into question. On August 7th, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a non-binding opinion (KP-0324) arguing that local governments may not write ordinances related to eviction that contradict state law. It remains unclear what affect this opinion will have on local eviction protections.

CARES Act Protections for Renters

CARES Act Protections

The federal CARES Act suspended evictions through July 25th for tenants living at certain properties participating in federal programs or with federally backed loans. After July 25th, the Act requires landlords at properties covered by the Act to give 30 days notice before beginning eviction procedures.

Is my property covered by the CARES Act?

Fight an Eviction

About Evictions

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