When you are done reading about the Texas Eviction Process below, we recommend you purchase the corresponding Texas Eviction Notice to be delivered to your Tenant.
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Doing an Eviction in Texas can be broken down into 4 steps:
- Giving the Tenant a Notice to Vacate
- Filing an Original Petition to start a lawsuit against the Tenant
- Going to Court for your Hearing
- Filing a Writ of Possession to order the Constable to remove the Tenant
Texas also provides a way to lock out a Tenant who is delinquent in paying rent. This process is discussed at the end of this section.
Notice to Vacate
Delivering the Notice to Vacate
The Notice must be delivered in accordance with Texas law to be valid. There are a couple different ways you can deliver it:
- Personal Delivery
You may hand deliver the notice to the tenant or to any person residing at the premises who is 16 years of age or older. You may also personally deliver the Notice to the property by affixing it to the inside of the main entry door (in case nobody is home). If the property has no mailbox, and there is no way for the landlord to enter the property (deadbolt, dangerous animal, etc.), then the Landlord may affix the Notice to the outside of the main entry door.
The law also allows you to mail the Notice to the tenant by regular mail, registered mail, or certified mail with a return receipt. However, some judges will not accept regular mail as a form of service, so it is highly recommended you send the notice by certified mail.
If you have a lease with a Tenant, check your lease to see how many days notice you must give a Tenant in the Notice to Vacate. The standard is 3 days, and if you do not have a lease with the Tenant, then it is 3 days. The clock starts ticking for them to vacate when the Notice is actually delivered (not when it is mailed). You MUST wait out your notice period (usually the 3 days) before you file your lawsuit.
Make 2 copies of the Notice to Vacate before you deliver it. You will need one for the Court if you have to file a lawsuit (next section), and you need one for your records. If you personally deliver the Notice, it is a good idea to write on your copies what time of day you delivered it, and to whom you delivered it to.
When you are ready, We recommend that you purchase this site’s corresponding Texas Eviction Notice to be delivered to your Tenant.
The Original Petition
After your Notice period is up and the Tenant is still occupying your property, you need to go to Court for help. The way you do this is by filing a lawsuit against the Tenant called a “Forcible Entry and Detainer” lawsuit. This sounds tricky, but is actually quite simple.
You start the lawsuit by filing 2 forms:
- Original Petition
The Original Petition is what starts the lawsuit. Depending on the County, it is also called a Complaint, Original Complaint, Complaint for Eviction, Forcible Entry and Detainer, and other similar variations. Most Justice of the Peace Courts have an Original Petition that you can use available in their lobby, but you are almost always welcome to use your own as long as it complies with Texas Law.
- Military Affidavit
This is more formerly called an “Affidavit of Military Status of Defendant.” The purpose of this form is to protect the rights of members of our military while they are off protecting us. You simply check whether or not you think your Tenant is in the military. This form is filed along with the Original Petition.
Where to File
You must file your lawsuit in a Justice of the Peace Court in the Precinct that your property is located in. Most counties in Texas are broken down geographically into Precincts. It is your job to find out what precinct your property is located in. There are a few ways to do this. You can go to your County’s website and see if they have a Precinct map. You can also call any Justice of the Peace Court in your County, give them your property’s address, and they will simply tell you. It is a good idea to call your Precinct before you go there to file so you can find out what hours they are open and what the filing fees are.
Filing Fees are different for every Court, but they will generally be under $100.00, and that includes filing the case, having the Clerk prepare a Citation to be given to the tenant, and having the constable or sheriff serve (deliver) the Citation to the tenant.
Notarize the Forms
This is easy. You must get the Original Petition and Military Affidavit notarized before they are filed. The Court Clerk can do this for you when you go in to file the case. They may charge a small fee to do this.
Get your Court Date
When you file the Original Petition and Military Affidavit, the Court Clerk will give you a time and date for your eviction hearing (your court date). You will show up to Court on that date to prove your case to the judge.
Meanwhile, what is the Court Doing?
The Court Clerk is going to prepare a “Citation” that tells your Tenant they are being sued for possession of the property and when the court date is. The county constable or sheriff will then serve (deliver) the Citation and the Original Petition to your Tenant. Your Tenant must have at least 6 days between being served the Citation and the court date.
Going to Court
So now the Tenant has gotten your Notice to Vacate, has been served a Citation and Original Petition by the constable, and still has not vacated. It is now time to go to court.
Here is what to bring to court:
- A copy of your Notice to Vacate
- Your Lease with the Tenant
- Any witnesses you need to prove something (a lease violation perhaps)
- Any other evidence (warning letters, rent receipts, ledgers, etc)
When you show up for your court date, politely ask a clerk or bailiff where you should go for eviction hearings. They will usually direct you into a waiting room or directly into the courtroom. Always dress professionally and use your best manners when entering the courtroom. Do not, and I mean DO NOT allow your cell phone to ring in the courtroom. Some judges will confiscate it for 1 week, while others will fine you $500.00 on the spot.
The judge will give instructions to the courtroom, and will sometime “swear in” the entire room at once. When your case is called, you will go up in front of the judge. The judge will take control of the conversation, ask you questions, and tell you what to do.
If your Tenant does not show up, the judge will award you a “Default Judgment.” This means you win automatically because the Tenant did not show up to defend themselves. If your Tenant shows up and defends the case, then the judge will render a decision either in favor of you or the Tenant after you have both presented your sides. If the judge rules in your favor, then you will get a Judgment that says you are entitled to possession.
Now that you have won the initial suit, your Tenant has 5 days to leave or to file an appeal in the County Court. For your Tenant to file an appeal, they will have to post a bond, or submit a “Pauper’s Affidavit” alleging they cannot afford to post a bond. If your Tenant files this appeal, you will have to argue the case again at the County Court level.
Writ of Possession
So you have won your lawsuit, the 5 day appeal period has passed, and your Tenant is still there. On the 6th day from when you won your lawsuit, you may file a “Writ of Possession.” This form is available from the court where your lawsuit was, and will generally cost around $200.00 to file.
The Writ of Possession orders the Constable to oversee the physical removal of your Tenant and your Tenant’s property. The Constable will post a 24 hour Notice to Vacate on the property, and after that will show up and physically remove the Tenants if necessary. Talk to the Constable beforehand to see if you will need to bring people to move the Tenant’s belongings onto the curb.
Advanced Eviction in Texas: Faster ways to Evict
Bond for Immediate Possession
If you prevail in Court, doing an eviction by filing a Bond for Immediate Possession could shorten the eviction process down to 10 days. But if the Tenant requests a trial or appeals the case, the time will be just as long as a regular eviction case. This procedure includes giving a notice to the Tenant and posting a bond with the Court for surety or cash. If you lose your case, you will lose all or part of your bond. If you wish to file an eviction this way, contact the Justice of the Peace Court for your precinct and inquire as to procedure and forms.
Locking out a Tenant
Texas law provides a way to lock out a Tenant that is delinquent in paying rent. However, this is really more of a scare tactic, because the landlord has to let the Tenant back into the property immediately upon the Tenant’s request even if the Tenant does not tender the delinquent rent. There are strict rules on locking out a tenant so make sure you do this with good counsel. Here are the steps:
3 days before locks are changed, post a notice on the inside of the main entry door that says (A) the earliest date that the landlord proposes to change the door locks; (B) the amount of rent the tenant must pay to prevent changing of the door locks; and (C) the name and street address of the individual to whom, or the location of the on-site management office at which, the delinquent rent may be paid during the landlord’s normal business hours.
Change the Lock, and at the same time place a notice on the front door that says (1) an on-site location where the tenant may go 24 hours a day to obtain the new key or a telephone number that is answered 24 hours a day that the tenant may call to have a key delivered within two hours after calling the number; (2) the fact that the landlord must provide the new key to the tenant at any hour, regardless of whether or not the tenant pays any of the delinquent rent; and (3) the amount of rent and other charges for which the tenant is delinquent.
A landlord may not change the locks on the door of a tenant’s dwelling on a day, or on a day immediately before a day, on which the landlord or other designated individual is not available, or on which any on-site management office is not open, for the tenant to tender the delinquent rent.
A landlord who intentionally prevents a tenant from entering the tenant’s dwelling must provide the tenant with a key to the changed lock on the dwelling without regard to whether the tenant pays the delinquent rent.
If a landlord arrives at the dwelling in a timely manner in response to a tenant’s telephone call to the number contained in the posted notice and the tenant is not present to receive the key to the changed lock, the landlord shall leave a notice on the front door of the dwelling stating the time the landlord arrived with the key and the street address to which the tenant may go to obtain the key during the landlord’s normal office hours.
If a landlord violates these provisions, the tenant may: (1) either recover possession of the premises or terminate the lease; and (2) recover from the landlord a civil penalty of one month’s rent plus $500, actual damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees in an action to recover property damages, actual expenses, or civil penalties, less any delinquent rent or other sums for which the tenant is liable to the landlord.
For more information on the Texas eviction process, see Chapters 24 and 92 of the Texas Property Code by clicking here: Texas Property Code
Next Step: We recommend you purchase the corresponding Texas Eviction Notice to be delivered to your Tenant.
This site strives to have the most current information on state eviction laws and forms, however, legislatures and judges’ rulings are always changing the laws. The information on this site is to be used as a guide, and is not to be used as legal advice, or as a substitute for the advice of an attorney. If you believe any information on this site is incorrect or needs to be updated, please Contact Us immediately.