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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 Other Tenant Protections page for information about renters' rights and 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

Effective September 4 through December 31, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an Order preventing many residential tenants from being evicted for nonpayment of rent.

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.

Landlord Obligations
A Texas Supreme Court Emergency Order sets certain obligations for landlords during the eviction process.

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

What If Eviction Proceedings Started Before September 4?
The CDC Order may still protect tenants whose eviction proceedings started before the Order went into effect.

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

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 December 31, 2020. 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:

Under this Order, 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 jurisdiction to which this Order applies during the effective period of the 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, 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:

To invoke the CDC’s order [tenants] must provide an executed copy of the Declaration form (or a similar declaration under penalty of perjury) 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. Each adult listed on the lease, rental agreement, or housing contract should likewise complete and provide a declaration.

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 language required for the Declaration can be found at the end of the CDC Agency Order [PDF]. Several legal aid organizations have created handy 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, it's a good idea for the tenant to notify the court that they have given their landlord a Declaration form. The CDC Order does not require this step, but it may help a tenant halt an eviction suit that has been filed against them.

CDC Order: Landlord Obligations

On September 17th, the Texas Supreme Court issued an Emergency Order that directs landlords to take certain actions related to the CDC's halt on residential evictions and the CARES Act.

Petition for Eviction

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

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)).

The Texas Supreme Court's Order states that when issuing a citation to the tenant, the citation must include both:

Landlords may be required to provide these two 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.

 

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 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 on or after September 4, 2020, discovers that a tenant claims to have delivered a Declaration to the landlord, the constable should immediately notify the court of the Declaration and wait for an order from the court to resume execution of the writ.

The court should expedite a hearing on the matter, and if a valid Declaration was delivered, should abate the case until the moratorium expires. 

If the Tenant Appeals the Eviction

If there is an appeal, Texas Justice Court Training Center says:

A common question has been what if an appeal is filed and then a Declaration is provided to the landlord? TJCTC believes that the court should send the properly-perfected appeal up to the county court, which will then likely have to stay the case, unless they determine the Declaration is for some reason invalid.

However, a writ of possession should not be issued, even if the tenant fails to pay rent into the registry when perfecting a residential nonpayment eviction with a Statement of Inability or appeal bond. Instead, the case should be sent up to the county court. The county court could issue a writ if they find the Declaration to be invalid.

CDC Order: What If Eviction Proceedings Started Before September 4?

The Texas Justice Court Training Center has created a page with guidance for justice courts tasked with hearing eviction suits. It states the following about evictions filed before September 4:

This order does not specifically impose requirements for landlords or courts in cases filed before the effective date of the order. However, the court would be within its rights to ask at any hearing whether the landlord has received a Declaration from the tenant that the tenant is a “covered person” under this order.

Additionally, if a court is informed by the landlord or tenant at any point in the process, including after a judgment but before execution of a writ of possession, that the tenant has provided a Declaration to the landlord, the court should immediately halt proceedings and determine whether or not a Declaration has been provided to the landlord. 

CDC Order: Do I Still Owe Rent?

Yes. The CDC Order does not provide monetary relief for renters or landlords. According to the Order, tenants "are still required to pay rent and follow all the other terms of their lease and rules of the place where they live. These persons may also still be evicted for reasons other than not paying rent or making a housing payment."

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.

Criminal Penalties

Landlords and rental companies who violate the Order 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 who could prosecute these crimes.

 

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 before beginning eviction procedures.

Is my property covered by the CARES Act?

Fight an Eviction

About Evictions

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