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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.

 The Eviction Process

Note Eviction procedures may be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Please see the Eviction page on the COVID-19 & Texas Law research guide for current information related to COVID-19 and evictions.

Timeframes in the Eviction Process

Eviction proceedings do not mean that you will immediately be removed from your home. Before your landlord can obtain a "writ of possession," which is when a constable will remove your property from the rental, there are many possible steps in the process that each take a certain amount of time. 

Please note that the specific circumstances of your situation may result in a slightly varied timeline. This is a general example of how long it may take for an eviction suit to take from start to finish.

Notice to Vacate

Before your landlord can start legal eviction proceedings against you, they must give you proper notice in writing. A letter that the landlord would like you to move out because you have broken the lease is called "notice to vacate." Texas law is very specific about how the notice must be given to you and what it must contain.

The notice must include:

The notice can be given to the tenant in one of the following ways:

If the notice is given in person or sent via the mail, the time given to move out before the landlord files an eviction suit starts running once it is delivered. If it is attached to the outside of the main entrance, the time starts running once the notice is affixed to the outside of the door, regardless of when the copy in the mail is delivered.

Texas Law


Understanding the Law

The Eviction Suit

Once the time stated in the notice to vacate has passed, a landlord can file a suit to evict. This suit should be filed in the justice court where the rental property is located. If you are a landlord and do not wish to file the petition for an eviction suit through eFile, please check with your justice court for a form for the petition.

Once the suit has been filed, the tenant must be served with papers at least 6 days before the trial. A sheriff or constable may serve you with papers by delivering them to you or to a member of your household who is 16 or older. If they have tried to deliver papers twice and are unsuccessful, a judge can allow them to serve you in another method, such as slipping it through a mail slot, slipping it under the front door, or affixing it to the front door.

In justice court, you are not required to file a written answer but you are allowed to if you disagree with the claims in the suit. If you do not file an answer, you will need to show up to the hearing or risk a default judgment against you. The hearing will be set for no sooner than 10 days after the suit was filed and no later than 21 days.

You have the right to request a jury for your hearing. This request must be made at least 3 days before the trial.

After the hearing, a judgment will be issued. If the court rules against you, you will have the opportunity to appeal before your property is removed from the rental. For more details, please see the Appealing an Eviction page of this guide.

Texas Law


Writ of Possession

Once a final judgment has been entered and all deadlines have expired, the landlord may ask the judge to issue a "writ of possession" if the tenant still has not moved out. This is the final step in the eviction process, when a tenant and all of their belongings and property are removed from the rental unit.

Texas Law

Understanding the Law