Texas landlords have the right to sue tenants for unpaid rent damages. This is the case even after your tenant vacates the property.
But whether it is a good idea to sue your tenant is something you should examine closely. Learn more about how to determine if suing your tenant is a risk worth taking.
Landlords Should Never Sue Tenants for Unpaid Rent in a Justice of the Peace Courts
Texas Justice of the Peace Courts are often the go-to courts for Texas landlords. JP Courts are intended for self-represented litigants. The problem with them, though, is that they give your tenant an unrestricted right to appeal to a County Court at Law. But this isn’t the type of appeal that reviews the trial. It is an appeal de novo. This means your tenant gets an entirely new trial. Your tenant need only file a one-page notice of appeal and pay the filing fee (or sign an affidavit to get the fee waived) to get the Justice of the Peace’s judgment vacated.
As long as your tenant owes you more than $500.00, you have the right to start the case in the County Court. So why not ensure you avoid having a second trial?
You Probably Want to Know If You Will Win….
I can’t give you a direct answer to this question. Texas law does not allow lawyers to give or even imply a guarantee of results. I can, however, speak to you in terms of probabilities.
If you have a written lease agreement with your tenant and a rent ledger, you have an excellent chance at obtaining a judgment from your tenant. With such evidence, you leave very little wiggle room for the tenant. Texas law permits very few lawful justifications for tenants to withhold rent.
If you do not have a written lease agreement, you are very likely wasting your time by pursuing your tenant for past, unpaid rent. If you had a contract for deed or a lease purchase agreement, you should not pursue one of these cases at all. It is more than likely to backfire on you in a bad way.
Why Using an Experienced Landlord Attorney Is So Important
Texas law permits the prevailing party in a contract dispute to recover damages in the form of attorney fees from the losing party. Because your written lease agreement is a contract, you have this right, too. So, to some degree, you don’t have a lot to lose by hiring an attorney on one of these cases.
You need someone on your side who understands the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. An expert’s understanding of these rules can avail to you the possibility of finishing out your case in only a few months as opposed to more than a year. There are shortcuts to litigation. An experienced attorney will know them and know when it is best to use them.
Finally, the cost of hiring an attorney on one of these cases is probably nowhere near as bad as what you might think!
I would welcome an opportunity to see if your case might be a good fit for my firm. Please give me a call at (817) 835-9410.