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Landlord/Tenant Law

This legal research guide provides information about landlord and tenant law that is helpful to both the practitioner and the public looking for legal information.

Appealing an Eviction

If the judge ruled against you in the initial eviction suit in justice court, you have the opportunity to appeal. This page provides information on the eviction appeal process. Because the appeal can be more complicated than the initial trial, it may be necessary to talk to an attorney for advice.

Filing the Appeal

After the judgment is issued in the trial for the original eviction hearing, all parties have 5 days within the signing of the judgment to appeal. During this time, the court cannot issue a writ of possession to have the tenant's property removed.

The appeal is "perfected" when the appellant (person who is appealing the judgment) has filed one of the following with the justice court:

  • Appeal bond - This is a promise that the appellant will pay the judgment and any associated costs if they lose their appeal. If the eviction is for nonpayment of rent, the judgment from the justice court will state how much the bond should be for. It must be signed by two sureties.
  • Cash deposit in the amount of the bond - If you are unable to find a surety for your appeal bond, you can instead give the justice court the amount required for the appeal bond in cash. They will hold it in the court registry as a way to pay the judgment and court costs if the appeal fails.
  • Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs - Also known as a "pauper's affidavit" or "affidavit of indigency." If you cannot find sureties for an appeal bond and if you do not have enough cash to deposit with the court, you can tell the court that you can't afford the costs using this form. It will require you to swear to your financial status. Please note that if you file this form and the other party believes that you can pay the costs, they can challenge your use of this statement.

Once the appeal has been perfected, the appellant must serve the other parties with notice of the appeal. The notice can be served in person, by mail or courier, by fax, by email, or another manner directed by the court. 

Upon perfection of the appeal, the justice court will send all relevant documentation and money in the court registry to the county court for a "trial de novo." Unless you filed the Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs, the county clerk will then notify you that you must pay court costs for the trial de novo.

Texas Law


Understanding the Law

Trial De Novo

A trial "de novo" is one that is being held as though the initial trial that was appealed never happened. Most appeals only allow appellate courts to rule on procedural errors. They do not reconsider the evidence. A trial de novo in a county court allows all evidence from the justice court trial to be heard by a new court.

The county court will receive a certified copy of the docket entries, a certified copy of the the bill of costs, the original papers in the case, plus any money in the court registry from the justice court. At this point the county clerk must notify all parties and request a written answer if one was not filed in the justice court. The answer must be received within 8 days.

Texas law gives you the right to request a court appointed attorney if you were in "possession of the residence" at the time the original suit was filed and the appeal has been perfected correctly. The county court is not required to grant this request, but some counties with pro bono attorneys available may. Ask your county clerk for more information about a court appointed attorney.

Texas Law


Understanding the Law

While the Appeal is Pending

While your appeal is pending, you may remain in the rental unit but you still must pay rent.

If you are appealing an eviction suit for nonpayment of rent and have filed a Statement of Inability to Pay Court Costs, the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure require you to deposit the rent you owe with the justice court's registry. They are required to give you written notice that outlines how and when the rent must be deposited.

Texas Law

Further Appeals

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your de novo trial in county court, you can appeal further by filing a supersedeas bond with the county court. It must be filed within 10 days of the judgment in the amount set by the court.

This procedure is more complicated than the initial trial and appeal. It is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney for assistance.