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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.
If you are facing an eviction, understanding how the process works may help you feel less anxious about what will happen. The video and links below contain general overviews of how evictions happen and can help you know what to expect.
There are many legal terms used in the eviction process that non-lawyers may not know. Below are some terms and their definitions that are helpful to understand when facing an eviction. Other sections on this page will provide more information about how they factor in to the process.
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.
An eviction is not the same as a landlord choosing not to renew a lease once it ends. Evictions usually involve a tenant not paying rent on time or breaking a rule included in the lease. Evictions also require a notice to vacate, which is different than a notice of non-renewal.
A notice of non-renewal is when the landlord or tenant notify the other that they will not be renewing the lease.
Some written leases require the tenant give a 30-day or 60-day notice of non-renewal to end the lease. Some written leases automatically renew on a month-to-month basis or for a longer period if neither party gives notice. It's important to review your lease for details on when and how each party should provide notice.
Unless the landlord and tenant have an agreement in writing stating otherwise, month-to-month leases can be terminated by either party giving the other party at least one month's notice.
Some tenants fear that their landlord will punish them if they complain about problems with their apartment. This kind of punishment is called "retaliation." Section 92.331 of the Texas Property Code describes unlawful landlord retaliation, noting:
A landlord may not retaliate against a tenant by taking an action described by Subsection (b) because the tenant:(1) in good faith exercises or attempts to exercise against a landlord a right or remedy granted to the tenant by lease, municipal ordinance, or federal or state statute;(2) gives a landlord a notice to repair or exercise a remedy under this chapter;(3) complains to a governmental entity responsible for enforcing building or housing codes, a public utility, or a civic or nonprofit agency, and the tenant:(A) claims a building or housing code violation or utility problem; and(B) believes in good faith that the complaint is valid and that the violation or problem occurred; or(4) establishes, attempts to establish, or participates in a tenant organization.
Under this law, a landlord may not retaliate by:
Section 92.333 goes on to describe what remedies a tenant may pursue, including, "a civil penalty of one month's rent plus $500, actual damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney's fees in an action for recovery of property damages, moving costs, actual expenses, civil penalties, or declaratory or injunctive relief, less any delinquent rents or other sums for which the tenant is liable to the landlord."
The library receives many questions about how to get people who are not on a formal, written lease to leave a home. This might include:
Because leases in Texas do not have to be written, a spoken agreement allowing someone to stay at a house may constitute a lease. This would give the person some protections as a tenant.
Attorneys typically recommend that the safest way to remove a guest who doesn't have a lease is through the formal eviction process.