There are several acceptable reasons to evict a tenant in Texas, but the most common reason for eviction is nonpayment of rent. When you have a tenant who isn’t paying rent, there are a few things you can try before you begin the eviction process. Try communicating with your tenant. If you can find out why it’s so difficult to meet the due date, perhaps you can work something out together that will help the tenant stay on schedule. You can also offer different payment methods, such as online or electronic payments.
If you cannot seem to make any progress with your tenant and rent continues to go unpaid, you need to act quickly. The longer you have a nonpaying tenant in your property, the more money you can lose.
Serve a Notice to Vacate
Your first step is to provide your tenants with a Three Day Notice to Vacate. You cannot go to the court to file for eviction without serving this notice first. It essentially notifies the tenant that rent has to be paid in three business days, or they need to move out. With the service of this notice, the tenants are informed that you will begin the formal eviction process if they refuse to pay or move out.
The best way to serve this notice is in-person. If you can, knock on the door and serve the notice to the tenant or any adult who answers. If you cannot reach anyone, tape it to the inside of the main door or send it via certified mail. You’ll want to document that this notice was served, because you may need it in court.
File for Eviction in Court
Tenants will typically come up with the rent before the end of the three day period, but if they don’t, you need to go to the local courthouse in the precinct where your rental property is located. There, you can fill out the paperwork and pay the fee to get the eviction scheduled. You’ll need to fill out some paperwork and file it with the county clerk. Then, the constable will serve the tenant a summons and a court hearing will be set.
Obtaining a Writ of Possession
You’ll go to the court hearing with all of your documentation, including the signed lease, the accounts showing the delinquent and overdue payments, and a copy of the Notice to Vacate. You’ll also want to bring a record of any communications you’ve had with the tenant during this period of nonpayment. If the tenant does not show up, you automatically win your case. If the judge rules in your favor, the tenant has five days to appeal. If the judge rules against you, it’s up to you to appeal within five days.
Assuming you’re able to prove your case, the next step is to get a Writ of Possession from the judge. You’ll need this if the tenants refuse to move out even after losing the eviction case. This Writ goes to the Sheriff, who will physically remove your tenants from your property.
There’s much more involved in the eviction process. You’ll need to know what to do with the tenant’s possessions and how to account for the security deposit when past due rent is owed to you. We recommend you work with an experienced attorney or a local property manager.
We’d be happy to help you if you’re in the unenviable position of needing to evict a tenant. Contact us at AustinVestors Property Management, and we’ll provide some additional advice.