If you’re into the rental property business, it is important to have an in-depth understanding of the state law that protects the landlord-tenant relationship. Successful landlords in Texas know how to comply with the landlord-tenant law. On the other hand, a responsible tenant knows how to obey the tenancy rules mentioned on the lease or rental agreement. Failure to do so may lead to termination of the tenancy contract and eviction.
In Texas, a landlord is obliged to terminate the tenancy agreement first before evicting a tenant. Eviction is an official legal process that a property owner must follow to have the tenant vacate the premises. The eviction process isn’t as easy as it may seem. A credible Frisco landlord attorney can help you understand the rules to be followed before a tenant can be legally evicted.
The article answers the following questions:
- What is the Eviction Process for Nonpayment of Rent?
- When to File an Eviction Suit?
- What is an Eviction Moratorium?
- What Does An Eviction Moratorium Do?
- What Properties Does The Eviction Moratorium Apply to?
- Who Does Eviction Moratorium Apply To?
- What Does the CDC Order Stop The Landlord From Doing?
What is the Eviction Process for Nonpayment of Rent?
A landlord is allowed to evict a tenant for failing to pay rent on time. According to Texas law, rent is considered “late” if not paid within two full days after the due date. Once rent is past due, the landlord must provide a three-day “Notice to Vacate” to file an eviction action with the court. If the tenant does not move out before the proper notice period expires and remains on the property, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
When Do I File an Eviction Suit?
In Texas, any actions that constitute a breach of contract can be considered grounds for eviction. This includes non-payment of rent, late fees, returned check fees, damages to property, or an attempt to claim your property. To file an eviction suit, you must have previously created and delivered a written notice to the tenant you want to evict. The eviction notice should state the reasons why you are evicting your tenant.
What is an Eviction Moratorium?
One of the most common reasons for tenant eviction is non-payment of rent. As the landlord, you have legal rights to evict tenants who fail to pay their rent on time. However, you also need to consider the reasons behind their missed payments. It might be because of a sudden loss of a job or serious illness caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to this situation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) implemented a pandemic-related nationwide moratorium on evictions. The extension is given to tenants who are falling behind on rental payments during the pandemic. The eviction moratorium prohibits a landlord from evicting a tenant from the residential rental property for non-payment of rent. The order only temporarily stops renters from being evicted. When the order ends, they can still be evicted for any unpaid rent and fees. A competent Frisco landlord attorney can help you understand how the eviction moratorium works.
What Does An Eviction Moratorium Do?
CDC defines eviction as any action that leads to the removal of a renter or tenant. It refers to both legal attempts (by filing an eviction) and illegal attempts (such as locking out a tenant or shutting off utilities) to evict a tenant. According to the eviction moratorium, a landlord may remove a tenant who:
- Engages in criminal activity within the premises
- Violates a health and safety code or regulation
- Threatens the health and safety of other residents
- Poses a significant risk of damage to property
- Violates a term of the lease agreement (aside from non-payment of rent or late fees)
Keep in mind that removing a tenant for any other reason will violate the eviction moratorium. As such, it is important to consult a landlord attorney in Frisco to prevent any violation of the landlord-tenant law in Texas.
What Properties Does The Eviction Moratorium Apply to?
The eviction moratorium applies to all residential rental properties, even those properties that were not covered by the CARES Act eviction moratorium. The moratorium covers a qualifying tenant, not the rental property.
Who Does Eviction Moratorium Apply To?
To qualify for CDC protections, the tenants must pass the following criteria:
1. The residential tenant fails to pay the landlord the full rent amount. The tenant is covered if they cannot pay full rent due to financial hardship, including:
- Loss of wages
- Substantial loss of household income
- A lay-off
- Extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses
2. The residential tenant meets the income requirements. The tenant is covered if they:
- Expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for 2020 or no more than $198,000 if you are filing a joint tax return
- Received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) under the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act)
- Were not obliged to report any income in 2019 to the IRS
3. The tenant should be making their best effort to make a partial payment as much as possible.
4. The tenant must try to obtain all available government assistance for rent and housing.
5. The tenant has no other available housing. A tenant cannot be forced into a housing that is unsafe, unaffordable, or would force them into a shared living situation. The tenant is covered if an eviction would likely make them homeless or force them into a shared living situation.
What Does the CDC Order Stop The Landlord From Doing?
The CDC eviction moratorium may prohibit you from doing the following:
- Filing for eviction
- Enforcing any eviction that the court already decided
- Moving forward with an existing eviction case
The landlord may ask the judge to decide whether the CDC declaration you signed honestly applies to your situation. If the judge decides that you do not meet the CDC declaration’s requirements, then the eviction may go forward. Always remember that the CDC order only protects against eviction for nonpayment of rent. If your tenant did something to break your lease contract, you can still consider filing for eviction.
The Role of a Landlord Attorney
Evicting tenants is a complicated process. Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and regulations required by Texas law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the court can refuse to issue an order of eviction. You must follow highly detailed procedures, notify the tenant of the lawsuit, fill out official forms, and file the complete paperwork. Both tenants and landlords must negotiate on the terms of the lease or rental agreement most especially during the pandemic. For legal help in the eviction process, do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with our experienced Frisco landlord attorneys at Girling Law. Our landlord attorney law firm will help you throughout the whole eviction process guided by the landlord and tenant law.