Eviction proceedings do not mean that a tenant will immediately be removed from their home. There are many steps in the eviction process that each take a certain amount of time. Until a writ of possession is issued, the tenant can remain in their home.
Note: 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.
Before a landlord can start legal eviction proceedings, they must give the tenant proper notice in writing. A written notification that the landlord would like the tenant to move out because the tenant has broken the lease is called a "notice to vacate." Texas law is very specific about how the notice must be given to the tenant 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.
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 eFile the petition for an eviction suit, 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 the tenant with papers by delivering them to the tenant or to a member of the household who is 16 or older. If they have tried to deliver papers twice and are unsuccessful, a judge can allow the landlord to serve the tenant in another method. Other methods include slipping it through a mail slot, slipping it under the front door, or affixing it to the front door.
In justice court, the tenant is not required to file a written answer. They are allowed to do so if they 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 and in favor of the landlord. 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.
Once a final judgment has been entered and all deadlines have expired, the landlord may ask the judge to issue a "writ of possession." This is the final step in the eviction process. "Executing a writ of possession" is when a tenant and all their belongings and property are removed from the rental unit.