Texas Opts for Uniform Eviction Laws

The Texas Legislature recently enacted a bill requiring all 254 Texas counties to abide by the same legal rules for handling evictions.  The change is a first for the state, which previously allowed each small-claims court to set eviction rules and proceedings within its own jurisdiction.

The new law takes effect August 31, 2013.  It makes a number of changes both to eviction law itself and to the process landlords must follow in carrying out eviction proceedings.  Some major changes include:

  • Trial dates are now set 10 to 21 days from the date the landlord files the eviction petition.  In some locales, this will mean trials occur more quickly; in others, it may delay them.
  • When the landlord receives a default judgment and has filed a bond for possession, the landlord may immediately obtain a writ of possession, as long as the bond was approved by the court and any applicable fees are paid.  However, the landlord must wait to execute the bond for at least seven days from the date the tenant receives notice the bond was filed.
  • A writ of possession expires after 60 days.  It may be extended another 30 days only if the landlord can show good cause for not executing it within the initial 60-day period.
  • Landlords must take care to name every individual who is to be evicted.  For example, if an apartment contains two roommates and the landlord wishes to evict both roommates, the landlord must name both roommates in the eviction petition.

Significant changes have also been made to the processes for appealing an eviction and for filing a pauper’s affidavit.

Not all parts of Texas eviction law are changing, however.

As in the past, a landlord may not sue for utilities, damages, or late charges in an eviction proceeding.  The landlord will still have to file separate small claims actions to pursue these charges.  Some parts of the process are still the same as well, such as the requirement to file a civil cover sheet and a Serviceman’s Civil Relief Affidavit (where applicable).

Uniform eviction rules make a difficult process easier for landlords in several ways.  Now, property management companies with properties in multiple jurisdictions will need to understand and abide by a single set of rules.  Tenants will also have to be informed of only one set of rules, reducing the chances that a tenant can legitimately claim he or she was unaware of the process for eviction at a particular address.

Note: This article is provided for informational purposes only.  No information provided in this article should be considered legal advice.  If you have legal questions, please consult an attorney who is licensed to practice law in your area.

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