You would think an eviction dismissal was a pretty straightforward matter, right? Not so much. There are very specific items your Texas eviction dismissal forms need to include. There are also very specific steps landlords must take to ensure you preserve your rights.
The good news is that dismissing an eviction lawsuit is generally uncomplicated for landlord-plaintiffs. The Court will be more than happy to take your case off their docket. They may even assist you a little.
Dismissing an Eviction is Easy; Doing it Wrong is Easier
But saying dismissals aren’t that difficult is also like saying dentistry is easy. I mean – I could go into my garage, pull out a pair of plyers, and remove a problem tooth. Simple, right? It might have been extremely painful. It was certainly unsanitary. But it was easy.
You can absolutely run into your Justice of the Peace office and close out your case with little pomp and circumstance. But will doing this be painful later? Will it be legally unsanitary?
My office has had landlords come to our firm after doing what you’re about to do – closing out their eviction lawsuits. The problem was, they did it too early. And their tenants figured it out….
What Happens When You Nonsuit an Eviction Early
Do you know whether it’s premature to close out your eviction matter?
In eviction cases, MANY – IF NOT MOST – settlements are structured in such a way that you must keep the case alive until after a specific point in the settlement process. Otherwise, your tenant obtains the ability to force you to re-start the entire eviction process. Can you imagine your tenant laughing when he receives your second notice to vacate? Laughing because he burned you?
Managing a settlement agreement is something the Courts absolutely won’t give you any guidance on. They’re just going to take your non-suit paperwork. A Court Clerk taking your documents and filing them are not the same as the Clerk saying, “Yeah – this is a good idea; this is the right time to file your paperwork.”
The Magic Words Involved in Dismissing Your Eviction Lawsuit
Another problem landlords run into when dismissing their evictions is failing to keep the litigation door open. Dismissing your case doesn’t have to mean you give up your right to sue your tenant again in the future. Yet, landlords do this routinely.
When I see landlords giving up all of their rights like this, it’s nearly always because they’ve pulled down forms from the internet. Because the internet is such a useful and accurate repository of legal advice, right!?!
It may seem silly; it may seem like a little thing, but it’s true: you need to include two very important words in your proposed Order of Non-Suit. Without these two words, you’re potentially laying a trap for yourself. Magic words….
Not to worry, though! Girling Law’s Texas Justice of the Peace Non-Suit Packet includes all the magic words you need to keep yourself out of trouble. Use our forms for your dismissal and you’re good to go!
Why You Want to Retain the Right to Sue Your Tenant in the Future
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “This tenant’s been a complete pain in my… neck!” (You were going to say “neck,” right?) “Why on earth would I want to keep open the door to sue him in the future?”
One reason is that you may not have had a chance to see the condition of the inside of your property. If you have no clue what you’re facing on the upcoming make-ready, you absolutely need to avoid closing the door on any litigation against your tenant.
There’s another big reason though. The biggest, in fact….
What if your tenant sues you in the future?
You will want to have the right to counter-sue him for everything you can. As a defendant in a lawsuit, counter-suing the plaintiff is arguably the strongest way for you to create leverage. And you’ll want all the leverage you can get.
Did you have a written lease agreement with your tenant? He has four years from the time he vacates your rental property to sue you. A lot if lawyers would even argue they have four years on an oral contract, too.
“What would he sue me for?” you ask? It doesn’t matter. In Texas, you only need a pulse and $300.00 to sue anybody.
Why make defending a lawsuit harder on your attorney?
Dismiss your lawsuit correctly.
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