If you have a tenant who is far behind with rent, consistently late with rent, or has substantially breached the lease contract in other ways, you can chose to terminate the lease early. In Texas, a landlord can terminate a lease if a tenant is only one day late with rent. However, there are very specific steps for terminating a lease early, and if the tenant fails to vacate the landlord MUST seek a eviction through the courts. It is illegal to physically evict a tenant without a court ordered writ of possession.
First, if you have accepted late rent in the past, or overlooked other breaches of the lease, it is recommended you inform the tenant in writing that you no longer will allow the breaches to occur. If the tenant continues to breach the lease the next step is to provide a three day notice to vacate by hand-delivering a written notice or by posting it on the tenant’s front door. You can also mail the notice certified return receipt but must allow five days to vacate.
After the mandatory three days (or five if notice is by certified mail) you can proceed with the court eviction process. All evictions suits are handled by the justice of the peace court for the county or county precinct where the property is located. The justice court is informal and you do not necessarily need an attorney. The court clerk at the public window will have a standard form petition you can fill out. In your petition, be sure to ask the court for all back rent and any court costs. Failure to ask for specific monetary damages in the petition may waive your right to collect the damages.
The court will assign a hearing date and serve the tenants the papers. Attend the hearing and state your case to the judge. Be sure to keep all relevant correspondence and notices and bring them with a copy of your lease to the hearing. If the judge awards you the eviction order, the tenant will have five days to appeal. If the tenant fails to show up for the hearing you will get a default judgment and the tenant will have 10 days to respond and challenge the judgment.
After the waiting periods, you must go back to the court and obtain a write of possession. The writ of possession must be executed by the local sheriff or constable. If the tenant is still in leased premises, the constable will meet you at the property and allow you to physically remove the tenant’s belongings.
For a consultation on the eviction process, or for full turn-key eviction service, contact Attorney Andrew Bernick at 512-763-5370 or by email at Andrew@BernickLegal.com.