Eviction laws vary from state to state. Texas state law, for example, allows a landlord to evict a tenant based on violating the rental or lease agreement. Unlawful stay or not moving out of the rental property after termination are some of the most common violations.
This article discusses the legal process of tenant eviction and how a property owner can evict any tenant who violates their lease and rental agreement.
Notice to Vacate the Property: A Matter of Timing
Under Texas landlord and tenant law, landlords can deliver a notice to vacate (essentially terminating a certain tenancy) as soon as a violation of the tenancy agreement is discovered. With a notice to vacate, a tenant must move out in three days. This three-day period includes holidays and weekends. (Note: Landlords and tenants can agree to a longer or shorter notice period in the lease or rental agreement.)
A notice to vacate is unconditional. If tenants do not move out within the set period, you can seek legal help and an eviction lawsuit can be filed.
In the rental or lease agreement, landlords and tenants may likewise agree that the latter can respond to a notice of proposed eviction action. If such is the case, the tenant or occupant must respond to the eviction notice, and then you must wait for the said period to expire. Until then, no notice to vacate can be given and no further eviction procedures can be done.
Tenant Eviction: What must be in the Notice to Vacate
Following landlord-tenant law, the following must be in the written notice:
- Date it was given
- Name of the tenant and address of the rental unit
- The reason why the tenant is being evicted (how exactly does he or she violate or has violated the rental or lease agreement)
- Statement of the three days notice (or the agreed number of days before actually evicting a tenant)
- An ultimatum stating that legal action may be pursued (and you may or will bring the case to court) if the said tenant fails to vacate the unit
- How the notice was given
If key information is missing in the eviction notice, such as the details of non-payment of rent or violations that led to the landlord-tenant disputes, the notice is invalid. The three-day period will not commence. A new notice with all the necessary information must be given before the landlord can continue with the eviction process. With this in mind, getting legal advice will be to your advantage.
What Happens Next: Don’t Do Anything Unlawful
If your tenant vacates in three days, you can use the security deposit for any damages to your personal property, if any, or cover any damages (if any) made to the rental property. If the deposit is not enough, you may opt to sue for the remaining amount and wait for court action.
If your tenant fails to move out, you can proceed with an eviction case. In Texas Justice Court, the proceeding is referred to as a ‘suit to evict,’ a ‘forcible entry and detainer suit’, or a ‘forcible detainer suit’. Talk to a lawyer to make sure you do everything correctly.
You must first go to court, attend the court hearing, and win the case before the property can be up for possession (by a law officer, on your behalf) of the landlord. Make sure to follow the procedures for a forcible detainer lawsuit filing.
Attempting to self-help (like changing locks) might lead to penalties associated with illegally evicting tenants. Make sure you comply with laws on how to evict tenants lawfully.
There are landlord-tenant laws detailing how to evict tenants legally. Keep in mind that tenant rights exist, and the last thing you want is to get involved with illegal eviction.
If a tenant has not paid rent and you are looking into eviction notices for nonpayment (or if you have questions on eviction proceedings in general) give us a call. We will assist you as you fill out court papers and other documentation. Contact us at Girling Law, PLLC for legal assistance.