Texas Eviction

Texas eviction laws prevent landlords from evicting tenants without notice. Landlords in Texas interested in evicting a tenant must first give the tenant a notice to vacate. The landlord must have reason to terminate the lease, such as not paying rent on time or at all or breach of the rental contract in another way. Use our free legal tool below to find your county's Justice of the Peace precincts and learn more about Texas eviction.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Texas landlords cannot evict tenants without following set guidelines and going through predesignated steps. This means that removing doors or windows in an effort to force tenants to move is not okay. Likewise, changing the locks while they’re at work is not legal. Some of the steps in the legal process of evicting a tenant, however, can be modified by the rental agreement. So tenants should always read their contracts carefully. To evict a tenant, a Texas landlord must first give the tenant notice. The landlord may then file suit for eviction leading to eviction hearings.

What Are Texas Termination Notices?

Landlords in Texas interested in evicting a tenant must first give the tenant a notice to vacate. The landlord must have a reason to terminate the lease, such as issues with payment of rent or breach of the rental contract in another way.

If you have a month-to-month agreement, either party (landlord or tenant) may end the tenancy with 30-day notice and without an eviction lawsuit. If you have a lease agreement and the landlord wishes to end a tenancy earlier, he or she may do so by serving the tenant with an appropriate notice. In Texas, the landlord must first give the tenant notice to vacate, and they must allow the tenant a three-day period (unless otherwise specified in the lease, but never less than 24 hours) to vacate the premises. After waiting the time specified in the notice to vacate, if the tenant has not moved, the landlord must then file a forcible detainer suit with the local Justice of the Peace (Tex. Prop. Code sec. 24.002). Not following these time tables could end in illegal evictions and a much bigger court case.

For more information, see this local government guide on the eviction process in Texas.

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How can you get legal help?

In Texas, evictions are handled by your local Justice of the Peace. Find your county’s Justice of the Peace precincts at Texas Courts Online. Many of the county websites will have the forms necessary for beginning eviction proceedings available for download. But be aware that while removal of a tenant by simply filling out a form may seem easy, events do not always unfold as smoothly as planned. Even in the simplest of cases, things like the return of security deposits and assessment of property damage have to be done with care. When partial payments are made for unpaid rent, it can make it more complicated. Keep in mind, simply refusing partial rent payments could prevent you from getting through the process. If you are unsure of the termination and/or eviction process at any point, you may wish to hire or consult a Texas landlord tenant attorney. Consult the Questions to Ask Your Texas Evictions Lawyer below for help when choosing an attorney.

Are self-help evictions legal in Texas?

It’s safe to say that by the time you get to the point of evicting someone, many things have gone wrong. Nonpayment of rent is just the first thing many think about. Many property owners would like to pay a filing fee and be done with it. A formal eviction process should be followed to protect property owner and tenant.

There are rules against improperly executed evictions, and self-help eviction is not legal in Texas for residential leases (the law is different for commercial tenants). A landlord may change the locks on the tenant’s dwelling for delinquent rents, but the tenant can get a key to the new lock without payments of the delinquent rent. If a landlord violates the procedures for changing the locks on a tenant, the tenant is entitled to the following:

  • Recovery of the premises or termination of the lease;
  • One month’s rent plus $1000;
  • Actual damages;
  • Court costs and attorney’s fees;
  • In some circumstances, another month’s rent.

See the Texas statute for more details.

What Should You Ask an Eviction Lawyer in Texas?

If you’re facing eviction or trying to evict a tenant, it’s essential to ask the right questions. Know where you stand and what to expect. Navigating the county court alone could get you in trouble, but it can be just as rough with the wrong lawyer. If you’re a looking to hire an attorney to handle an eviction notice from either side, ask the following questions:

  1. How many evictions cases have you handled?
  2. How many were successful/unsuccessful?
  3. How long will the eviction process take?
  4. For tenants: How long do I have before I MUST move out?
  5. For landlords: Will I be able to get a judgment for back rent for the amount of time the tenant has been living in the rental property illegally?
  6. What do you charge?
  7. For landlords: If I hire you, will I be subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?

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